How to prevent Internet service providers, advertising, and hackers from collecting information on your child. In the United States, ISPs have complete discretion over how they use surfing data to generate revenue through advertising. If your child spends any time online, there is no way to prevent ISPs from following them as well. Similarly, Google and Facebook monitor online activities and serve highly targeted advertisements to their users, including children.
While advertising standards have improved significantly since the dawn of the digital age, enforcing them is exceedingly challenging, especially when it comes to children. Additionally, a 2008 study found that children have a considerable influence on a variety of household purchases, ranging from breakfast items to software. As such, it’s unsurprising that advertisers spend a lot of money trying to win over these impressionable brains.
The issues do not end with children’s impact in the home. Many children are enticed to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars online. E-commerce websites make spontaneous purchases easier than ever. Then there are online games, which children frequently spend numerous hours per day playing and which entice them to make in-app purchases. The more robust the advertiser’s profile of the youngster, the easier it is to persuade the child to spend.
Not alone is the fact that children are unintentionally becoming into spending machines cause for alarm. Additionally, data collection has ramifications for privacy and security. Children’s data is frequently used for identity theft, and personal information may be used to contact your child by predators. We frequently consider our own online privacy, but when it comes to children, we must be even more circumspect. After all, individuals frequently lack the knowledge and judgment necessary to make sound judgments about when it is acceptable to disclose information.
Minors’ Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) imposes requirements on website operators in the United States regarding the acquisition of data from children. These, however, are only applicable to youngsters under the age of 13, as many older children lack mature judgment. Additionally, it is incredibly impossible for website operators to verify each customer’s true age. In general, this regulation, as well as similar ones in other nations, cannot be depended upon to keep children safe. As such, parents bear a great deal of responsibility.
Fortunately, there are actions parents may do to ensure your child discloses the minimum amount of information feasible. You can prevent data collection, reduce unwanted exposure to advertising, and even thwart malicious hacker attempts.
We’ll discuss some of the steps you can take to help safeguard your child’s information in this post. Let us begin!
Your youngster should be educated
To begin, a child’s greatest adversary when it comes to online privacy is himself. Even with all conceivable safeguards in place, children (particularly tech-savvy children) can find methods to overcome preventive measures and end up disclosing excessive amounts of information.
As such, it is critical to maintaining an ongoing conversation with your child about potential hazards and best practices. While you want to avoid frightening children needlessly, they should understand how things function and the repercussions of their behavior.
Common Sense Media has some excellent articles and videos on how to approach the topic of advertising with children of various ages. You can also use the tips in this post to communicate with your youngster in an easy-to-understand manner.
Utilize social media with extreme caution.
The majority of children spend the majority of their online time on social media. Although Facebook is not as popular as it once was, its use is nonetheless widespread and potentially harmful. Snapchat is another popular site, but there are also Instagram, Tumblr, WhatsApp, and Twitter.
Given that Facebook is an advertising monster, it’s unsurprising that its About section contains dozens of sections for users to complete. Other advertisers, hackers, and predators are well-versed in locating children online and regard social media as a perfect location to obtain a wealth of personal information about your child. They frequently do not need to spy at all, as children frequently overshare personal information without realizing who might be reading it.
It’s fairly easy to determine where they live, where they attend school, what their daily routine looks like, and even where they are at any given time. According to a 2017 Australian study, children as young as eight years old have posted personal information on social media platforms such as their home location and phone number.
From a parental control perspective, it’s critical to enforce rigorous restrictions to ensure your child isn’t sharing excessively. Children should be well informed about the rationale behind the restrictions so they are less tempted to attempt to avoid them. One method is to join the same social media platforms as your child and ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ them in order to view their public accounts. This, however, does not get you access to private messages, and hence installing a program such as mSpy may be a better option (more on that below).
Apart from revealing personal information, many children (knowingly or inadvertently) divulge real-time data. They might broadcast their current position, for instance, by ‘checking in’ on Facebook or instantaneously sharing geotagged photos. This is a terrible notion, much more so if the child is indicated to be alone. Even after the event, geotagged images can assist a predator in mapping out a child’s daily routine, which is certainly information you do not want them to have.
With regards to social media, it’s definitely better if children avoid using social login options for other applications. This grants access to the information contained in the social media profile. Even trusted websites may collect profile data in order to better target adverts. Others may be amassing it for more nefarious reasons. Some direct your youngster to bogus login pages where they may hand over their social media passwords to cybercriminals.
Create accounts using fictitious personal information
You’ve probably always taught your youngster that lying and pretending to be someone they’re not is unacceptable. Perhaps there is an exception. Certain websites, particularly social media platforms, demand you to provide a multitude of personal information in order to create an account. Are this information truly necessary? Unless you’re dealing with a paid account that requires billing information, the answer is generally no.
Some sites seek it to prevent people from making numerous accounts, while others are simply gathering data to use or sell later. Disclosure of all of this information may endanger your child. For instance, when you create a Facebook account, you have the option of making your phone number and email address public. When combined with the additional information a youngster may share on Facebook, they may become an easy target for identity theft.
In many circumstances, it’s perfectly acceptable for your child to tweak the facts here and there. Encourage children to refrain from sharing unneeded information such as their true date of birth and phone number, especially if the information will be made public. If it is necessary for account creation, this may be a good opportunity to stretch the truth a little.
Customize your privacy settings
Similarly to making things public, the majority of applications include a variety of privacy settings. Social networking platforms, email providers, and browsers, in fact, the majority of applications, will include a section for configuring your privacy settings.
By spending a few minutes reviewing these settings, you can significantly limit the danger of personal information being exposed. This is critical when defending against hackers, but it can also be beneficial when defending against other types of online attacks, such as cyberbullying.
If you have a younger child, develop a habit of adjusting these settings immediately after they begin using an application. For older children, teach them to do it alone. Walk them through the options and discuss the possible consequences of their decisions.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to read each application’s privacy statement. It is likely to include too much jargon for your child to comprehend, but you may highlight specific points. This may seem tedious, but it is a beneficial habit to develop for both you and your child.
Bear in mind that privacy rules and settings are subject to change and may differ according to the device from which the application is launched. For instance, downloading a mobile app frequently initiates tracking, which may not be available on the desktop version.
Your youngster is likely to register for numerous social media sites and other internet applications throughout their lives. They’ll rarely utilize some and will eventually lose interest in others. It’s prudent to deactivate any inactive accounts and to request that any personal data stored on the website’s log files be deleted.
Utilize only HTTPS-secured websites
One trap that anyone can fall into is visiting unprotected websites. This is particularly risky if your youngster is providing sensitive information such as their home address, social security number, or banking information. They may simply be providing their information directly to hackers. By only visiting secure websites (that marked HTTPS), you may be certain that the site is trustworthy and that communications between the site and your browser are encrypted.
Persuading an adult to perform these checks on each site may be challenging; persuading a youngster to do so is likely to be considerably more difficult. If you believe you will be unable to instill the habit of only viewing HTTPS sites in your child, you may choose to consider a browser extension. HTTPS Everywhere can assist by automatically migrating millions of websites to HTTPS when a secure version is available. However, this is not a fail-safe solution, as it permits access to non-HTTPS websites.
Opt-out of your Internet service provider’s data-gathering program
While ISPs track internet activities on a voluntary basis, many allow you to opt out of their data-gathering program. While this does not prevent advertisers and hackers from tracking you and your child, it does eliminate some forms of surveillance.
In the United States, ISPs such as Verizon and AT&T describe how to opt-out of their programs in their paperwork. However, because laws vary by country, you may not have this luxury.
Utilize ad-blocking software and anti-tracking browser extensions.
Advertisers track your online behavior mostly using tracking cookies, which transmit information about your browsing patterns to third parties. By disabling these cookies, you can prevent advertising from tracking your online activities. You and your child will be able to browse more discreetly and without being harassed by invasive advertisements.
Utilizing an ad-blocker or anti-tracking plugin is a simple yet efficient technique to ensure that your child’s internet activity is not recorded. Adblock Plus, Disconnect, and Privacy Badger are a few examples. There are some disadvantages to some of these tools since they frequently need some understanding and may wind up blocking some websites that you want children to access. However, if given a chance, they can prove to be extremely useful instruments.
Utilize anonymous internet search engines
When it comes to data collecting, search engines are a significant problem. After all, Adwords generates the majority of Google’s revenue, and its success is fueled by Google’s vast search history database.
Essentially, your child’s search history is being tracked and they are being targeted with advertisements depending on their search history. Previously, parents attempted to make Google accountable for children’s privacy but were turned down repeatedly. However, Google allows you to disable interest-based advertising.
If you want to safeguard your child’s privacy, you can direct them to a different search engine. DuckDuckGo does not track your search history and will not inundate you with advertisements. However, you may discover that you’re missing out on some of Google’s services. StartPage is a little unusual in that it displays Google results while removing all of your personal information.
Make use of parental controls
While it would be ideal if children did all you asked, the reality is that the majority do not. Certain situations need you to simply trust your child and hope for the best. However, as online hazards get more complicated, it’s occasionally vital to exercise control.
Parental controls are available for a wide variety of electronic devices. Depending on your requirements, these could be at the device or application level. Some are pre-installed, while others require additional software. You may purchase parental control extensions for specific browsers, for example. Numerous options enable you to restrict access to specific applications or specify when they may be utilized.
Certain software provides complete visibility into what is occurring and can capture screenshots, record keystrokes, log session times, and display which applications are currently running. Additionally, mobile versions are available that include GPS tracking, call logging, and monitoring of photographs, videos, and messaging apps. It truly depends on how much control you desire, and of course, you may determine the extent to which your child will be involved in the process.
Exercise caution when using wifi networks.
The majority of children now own cell phones and are constantly connected to the internet. When they’re out and about, they’re likely to connect to a variety of wifi networks, such as those at the mall, restaurants, and libraries.
The issue is that the majority of these connections are insecure, which means that hackers could be waiting to steal data. Phishing scams and man-in-the-middle assaults are just two of the techniques hackers employ to get access to insecure wifi networks.
They should make every effort to connect over secure connections and only visit HTTPS-secured websites. It’s usually a good idea to turn off wifi when not in use (to prevent it from connecting automatically) and to disable any sharing options in the device settings.
It is critical to instill in children the importance of never disclosing personal information, such as online banking credentials, while connected to a wifi network. On that topic, it’s prudent to verify bank statements and even your child’s credit score on a frequent basis in case of identity theft.
WERE YOU AWARE? According to the most recent figures on identity theft, 14.4 million people had their identities stolen in 2018.
Utilize a VPN
It is advised that everyone in the household, not just children, utilize a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN encrypts and tunnels internet traffic through an intermediate server. This essentially hides your IP address from your ISP, preventing it from tracking your online activity.
A VPN is also an excellent way to secure open wifi connections, which children commonly use. There are numerous suppliers to pick from, some of which offer complementary services. However, it is advisable to conduct due diligence as not all VPN services are created equal. Some, particularly the free ones, genuinely rely on advertising to sustain their business models.
Clearly, there are numerous reasons why you would not want your child’s information to be collected by ISPs, advertising, or hackers. The reality is that children are spending an increasing amount of time online, and it’s becoming easier to track their activities and unearth their personal information.
However, this need not be the case. By following a few of the measures outlined in this post, you may safeguard the privacy of your child’s information. This can help limit their exposure to targeted advertising, prevent malicious hacker attacks, and even keep them safe from predators.
Is it possible for an ISP to view Google searches?
Your ISP will not be able to view your searches regardless of whether you are using incognito mode or not. Encryption is used to conduct searches. Of course, the search provider (Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc..?) CAN SEE YOUR SEARCHES! Whatever you do.
Is it possible for an ISP to track you incognito?
Is Incognito/Private Mode Truly Confidential? While using incognito or private mode will keep your local surfing hidden, your ISP, school, or workplace will still be able to see where you’ve been online. Indeed, your ISP has access to virtually all of your surfing activities regardless of what you do.
Is my Internet service provider aware of the sites I visit?
ISPs are unable to determine which exact pages of a website you visit (anything following the ‘/’). ISPs are not able to view what you search for or enter into forms. ISPs can still see the domain name of the website you’re visiting (up to the leading ‘/’).
How can you prevent your Internet Service Provider (ISP) from spying on you?
How to prevent your Internet Service Provider (ISP) from snooping on your browser behavior
Block ISP tracking by using a VPN service. VPNs can be used to conceal your data and the information that your ISP attempts to log about you.
Redirect your traffic using a proxy server.
Protect your personal information by utilizing the Tor network.
Utilize only HTTPS-encrypted websites.