Have you googled your kids today?

privacyRemember the popular bumper sticker way back in the 80’s, ‘Have you hugged your kids today’?  It seemed to be somewhat of a mantra to remind parents to show their children affection.  And, to me as a child back then, it seemed silly as if parents didn’t already know to hug their kids.  I realize there are many parents, however, that did need that reminder.

But, as things change and social media has penetrated the fabric of our children’s lives, you should consider adding a simple task to your routine of hugging your kiddos.  Google them.  You may be surprised at what you find.  Often, our kids don’t realize that the information they put in their profiles is public.  They also don’t realize that their photos (if the locations setting isn’t turned off) give away where the picture was taken.  Lastly, many of them don’t take the time to find out about and use the proper privacy settings- to the extent they are available in the app.  Think I’m wrong?  You may be surprised what you can find out about your kids and their friends by googling them.  Think they are only using Instagram?  or Twitter?  Again, you may be surprised to google your child’s friend or teammate and see a racy conversation that pops up on Ask.fm.

As Anne Livingston of Kids Privacy pointed out in a recent article she wrote (see the link below), “When I download a new app, I like to figure it all out first….My kids have a different approach.  They just dive in.  Often, this means moving as rapidly as they can, ignoring the settings to get to the fun part.  But taking time to explore the settings is a critical piece to protecting privacy.”

Check out Anne’s summary and overview of the privacy options for some of the most popular social media apps today at http://www.csid.com/2014/08/talking-with-kids-about-online-privacy-settings/.  Go over these settings with your kids, and make sure they are utilizing them correctly.  This doesn’t take the place of using good judgement about what they post- by any stretch of the imagination. But it may help keep them aware of the fact that their privacy belongs to them.  They need to cherish it, protect it, and make sure others respect it.