Every time you or your teenager sign up to a new social media platform, you are handing out information about who you are. While most social media platforms are good at keeping the information you provide safe, they have no liability for what someone shares on their profile. This means it’s up to you or your teenager to know where information is stored, and who can see it or access it online.
Know how to manage your privacy settings
Staying on top of privacy settings is confusing and hard to manage but it's also the most important thing you can do when it comes to protecting yours and your child’s privacy online. If you know how to control where your information goes, you will keep yourself as protected as possible. Different platforms have different policies and setting which change regularly. Make sure you know how to update yours and your teenager's settings whenever needed.
5 tips for keeping personal information safe online
- Make a list of information that is okay to share. Have a conversation with your child about what they should share with friends only (e.g. Name, location, and age), publicly (e.g. name, but not age or location) and what information should be kept off social media completely (e.g. full date of birth, geolocation, full home address).
- Talk to your child about why identity is important. Give them examples of how their information could be used against them. For example, discuss how a bank uses name, D.O.B and home address to verify account holders over the phone.
- Don't over-emphasise the bad or scary stuff. Social media and the digital world can also be a very helpful way of keeping track of your own information and interacting with the world. Try to give them knowledge and information to be responsible without scaring them away from being open with you about their online behaviour.
- Take the year out of your birthday. It's fine to keep your birthday in your online profile (it seems to be the only way birthdays are remembered these days), but having your full D.O.B can be a risk. Try keeping the day and month, but change the year to something different (e.g. 5th of November 1904).
- Update your password every 6 - 8 weeks. See below for a list of best practice passwords tips.
Updating your password (dos and don'ts)
- change it often (every 6-8 weeks)
- use a phrase you will remember. Try using a line of your favourite song. Then when you need to update it, just use the following line in the song.
- include fancy symbols (such as % @ & ! )
- include numbers and upper case letters
- log out and back in of your account/s on all your devices to ensure that the password reset has been established.
- use the same password for everything
- use pet names or children’s names, they are very easy to guess (especially if you have all their names listed on your profile)
- use something completely abstract that you will not remember
- write them all down in the same location, unless this place is secure.
What to do if your privacy has been breached
Identity theft is a serious crime and should be reported to the police. If you think someone has been using your accounts without your permission, or your accounts seem to be doing funny things (like posting content you haven't approved of), change all your passwords. For more information, have a look at the e-safety commission website.