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Playing games, socializing, researching a school paper, or watching their favorite television shows are just a few of the many things our children are doing online. With children spending more and more time on the Internet, it has become more important than ever for parents to know how to protect their children's personal information. Adults often think of identity theft and financial loss when it comes to protecting personal information, but children are also at risk for disclosing personal information. In addition to their address and phone number, this could also include the name of their school and what time they are let out (after which they may be walking or staying home alone).
To help protect your family's privacy, the federal government requires many websites to meet a number of parental and safety requirements. This can include making it clear how personal information will be used and getting parental permission to collect information from anyone 13 or younger. Visit http://www.ftc.gov/privacy/coppafaqs.shtm for more details about these government regulations and how to protect your children.
OnGuard Online provides the following additional tips to parents for keeping your children's personal information safe:
- Look at the sites your children visit and see what kind of information the sites ask for or allow them to post.
- Talk to your child about the risks of disclosing certain information, especially in a public forum.
- Ask questions. If you're not clear on a site's practices or policies, ask about them.
- Be selective with your permission. In many cases, websites need your okay before they're allowed to collect personal information from your kids.
- Know your rights. For example, as a parent, you have the right to have a site delete any personal information it has about 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, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by calling (877) FTC-HELP. The FTC website also has an online form to file complaints which is accessible through the "Consumer Protection" tab at the top of the website's homepage, www.ftc.gov. From the homepage, choose Consumer Protection, then click on "File a Complaint" to access the Complaint Assistant form. For additional information on how to keep your children's personal information safe, visit the Kid's Privacy section of OnGuard Online.
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