Child Safety Online
January 28, 2021

Four Experts on Data Privacy for Kids

To mark Data Privacy Day, we're sharing insights from four experts in online privacy. Here is their advice to parents who want to protect their children's data online.

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It can feel like a daunting task trying to protect your kids’ data online—but at Kinzoo, we’ve had the pleasure of connecting with leading experts on the topic. Through our ongoing Interview Series, we’ve heard some great advice on how to control your family’s digital footprint. We asked four online privacy and safety experts what parents need to know about data and digital footprints—check out these excerpts from their interviews below!

Stephanie Humphrey, tech expert and former engineer

Stephanie Humphrey, tech expert and former engineer

Stephanie is the Resident Tech Expert for Strahan, Sara & Keke, A Good Morning America show where she helps viewers understand technology. When she’s not busy with her media appearances, she’s educating young people about digital citizenship with her brand ‘Til Death Do You Tweet. Here’s her advice:

“I don’t think [parents] really understand that the things their kids are doing now are setting them up for a digital footprint that’s going to follow them around for the rest of their life. It’s important to understand the permanence of the internet and the fact that the internet is searchable and recoverable. The internet has its own specific behaviors that people need to understand when they’re posting because that’s going to affect how the world sees them.

And when you talk about a digital footprint, you’re not just talking about social media. You’re talking about that group chat or those text messages or those emails or those searches. All of that electronically connected activity is part of a footprint that can come back to bite you. So you have to be thinking about all of it.”

Chelsea B., security analyst and ethical hacker

Chelsea B., security analyst and ethical hacker

Chelsea B. started Digital Mom Talk as a way to educate parents on how to secure their homes. She’s a security analyst and ethical hacker—which means she helps businesses and individuals understand where they might be digitally vulnerable. Here are her insights:

“People are shifting to this awareness, realizing that we have this 1984 reality going on where we’re not necessarily controlled by a government, but we are controlled by these corporations and what they do. They are starting to focus on their privacy and trying to understand why a data breach is a big deal. And, when you have a school district that’s breached where they’re just dumping names and email addresses, people are starting to understand why that’s actually enough to go in and steal a child’s identity.

People want to make sure that their data is secure, but they don’t understand it and so there’s this huge need to know how to keep your data private, what companies do with that data and how that data affects consumers.”

Cat Coode, digital privacy expert

Cat Coode, digital privacy expert

Cat is the founder of Binary Tattoo, an organization that helps educate and empower people to control and protect their online identity. She is certified in Canadian Privacy Law from the International Association of Privacy Professionals—and she’s also a busy mom, giving her a special insight into the importance of privacy for kids and families. Here are her thoughts:

“You often hear people say, “I have nothing to hide,” but your identity is an asset to you. People I know have had their identities stolen because their email address is “firstname.lastname.” You’re now giving away your name to anyone who wants to contact you. Kids should be ensuring that their usernames right down to email addresses are not giving away personal information.”

Darren Laur, online safety expert and retired Staff Sergeant

Darren Laur, online safety expert and retired Staff Sergeant

Darren founded The White Hatter, an organization offering internet safety and digital literacy training. Since 1993, they’ve been educating students, teachers, parents and businesses, and arming them with valuable tools to support their online safety. Here is his advice:

“When the internet first started, one of the biggest concerns for parents was sexual predation. Although that’s still a reality, it is becoming more of a rarity. Today, the bigger threat to our kids is not sexual predation, it’s their own digital dossiers. It’s important for parents to help their kids understand that what they’re putting online is public, permanent, searchable, exploitable, computable, shareable—and it’s all for sale. Just don’t share too much information. Period. End of story.

A lot of parents believe that they can just use hardware and software to help protect their kids. Wrong—parents need to be digital sheepdogs. We believe it’s a three-step process: participation, communication and oversight.”

If you want to learn more, check out the rest of the insights in our Interview Series on the blog!

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Image credit: Rawpixel / Shutterstock

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