Keep your kids safe online this summer

Making certain your children are safe when they go online is not an invasion of privacy.

During a recent television interview, Brittany Oler, marketing director for kidsemail.org, said it was good parenting to know where her children have been. And, it opens up the lines of communication.

The Internet safety program, KidsEmail, is geared toward children 4 to 12. It’s designed to protect them from cyber bullying, pornography, predators and emails from strangers.

Jacob Andersen, CEO and founder of Idaho-based KidsE mail.org, said in a news release, “It’s always been our mission to protect children while helping them learn about and enjoy technology in a safe environment.”

Television, radio and newspaper stories related stories about keeping children safe while they are online. June is Internet Safety Month.

The Better Business Bureau suggests getting acquainted with the details of all the sites your children visit or would like to visit. See for yourself what activities are available, and what personal information each site allows children to post in chat rooms, forums, etc.

Many websites ask children to register before they can participate in activities. Visit those sites and find out what personal information (for example, full name, email address, street address, etc.) they ask for registration and whether they allow children to post personal information in forums, chat rooms, etc.

While sites aimed at children younger than 13 are required (under federal guidelines) to post privacy policies, not all do so. If a privacy policy is posted, don’t assume it reflects the site’s actual practices. Know what has to be listed in a privacy policy: name, address, phone number and email address of the website operator; the types of personal information collected from children; how the information is or may be used by the operator; whether it will be publicly available through a chat room, forum or other means. See if the website’s policy has all the necessary information.

Under federal guidelines, websites are required not only to give you notice of what information your child can disclose online, but also to obtain “parental consent” before they collect any personal information from your child.

If you think a website has collected or disclosed information from your children or marketed to them in a way that violates the law, report it to BBB at snake-river.bbb.org or call (208) 523-9758.

While it not always is possible to make sure children visit only sites you have found to be safe and secure, do your best — keeping in mind that children know a lot about technology.

If your child uses social networking websites, check the site’s privacy settings, for example, that limit the people who your child may contact and the types of information posted. Some social networking sites allow only prewritten (canned) chat, and make it impossible to share personal information.

Even if your child is 13 or older, and not covered by federal guidelines, let them know that you are careful about your own disclosure of personal information on the Internet and encourage them to do the same. Remind them that with greater freedom, comes greater risks and responsibilities.

Robb Hicken is an investigator for the BBB serving the Snake River Region. Contact him at (208) 523-9758 or by emailing rhicken@idahofalls .bbb.org.

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