Tech corner

How to prevent your kids from oversharing online

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As a parent, how do you make sure your child isn’t oversharing or revealing too much personal detail online?

How much is too much when sharing on social media?

And, as a parent, how do you make sure your child isn’t oversharing or revealing too much personal detail online?

For Internet Matters, the KCOM-backed online safety organisation, one mum shared her experiences of making sure her vlogging 13-year-old doesn’t reveal too much on the internet.

Therese is Mum to teenager Zach, who has been running his own YouTube channel for more than a year.

For Therese, as long as Zach follows clearly defined ground rules and doesn’t not go beyond agreed online boundaries, he is allowed to continue with his YouTube activities.

The first of these rules is that live streaming is an absolute ‘No’

Although Zach is confident being online, Therese says that live streaming is still a definite “no” in their household.

“I think he’s still too young, and a live audience might be inappropriate,” she explains. “He has asked but we explained why we’re not happy with the idea, and agreed we will discuss it again when he is 15.”

Life as a YouTuber

Zach is allowed to use YouTube and has his own channel. He mostly makes videos about the game League of Legends, and he’s learning to record and edit his own videos. Occasionally, he will also use his channel for school projects.

Therese’s biggest concern is protecting Zach’s privacy. There are family ground rules, like the PC being in the living room, but she admits that they still worry.

“Because he is so young, it’s one of our greatest concerns,” Therese says. “He took a course in Internet Safety at school, and we’ve asked him to read a few articles about children his age being approached, so he has a sense of the reality.”

Using online family rules

Zach is also aware that the family rules mean he should never use his real name, mention where he lives, or give out too much personal information.

“My greatest fear would be that he disregards the rules and puts himself in a vulnerable position. But I do believe we need to trust children to follow their instincts, know the dangers, and the signs to look out for – and by that make the right choices,” says Therese.

So far, there haven’t been any issues where Therese has felt Zach has over-stepped and shared too much information online. In part, she thinks this is because there are such clear rules.

“I think because we established clear teachings from the get-go, it’s been avoided. But I know you can never be 100 per cent relaxed, and the Internet is a very big place.”

Sharing safely

Therese is comfortable sharing online, and uses social media herself, including running a popular website about car seat safety.

“What I share is largely safety-related and while sometimes I might use photos of the children online, I don’t share anything personal like photos if the bath,” says Therese. “My Facebook is very locked down, and I’ve used the settings to make it as private as possible.”

As a guideline for sharing, Therese imagines showing a photo to a stranger on the bus. “If I feel comfortable with that idea, then I’m happy to share the image online. But if I’m not sure, then I’d send it over email.”

KCOM is an official supporter of online safety organisation Internet Matters as part of its drive to help local parents keep their children safe in the digital world.

Internet Matters is backed by the UK’s biggest broadband providers and supported by leading online child safety experts.

Its website offers a host of e-safety resources and advice for parents on issues including online bullying and making sure children don’t have access to inappropriate content.

Advice is organised into useful guides aimed at different age groups, ranging from the under-fives to teenagers. Parents and schools are able to download these resources for free from the website www.internetmatters.org

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