Christmas day is now the biggest day for downloads of gaming apps and signing up for social media sites. Just like previous years, as soon as the iKids Generation unwrap their smartphones and tablets they will be ready to go online and load up their devices with game apps and social media sites. If they are first-time users of social media sites like Facebook or Instagram, they will be eager to post their first selfies and search madly for friends who can “Like” them.
As fun as this all is, it would be well for parents and grandparents to put on the brakes long enough to give some old-fashioned advice and to prepare them as they create their online identities. Just like you wouldn’t let a 16-year-old drive a car without getting a learner’s permit, you shouldn’t let your iKids jump on the World Wide Web without the basic rules of the road.
The current Sony hacking scandal in which hackers revealed the private emails of corporate executives and released the social security numbers of thousands of employees is an important reminder that everything we post in the digital world is free game.
A newly released report from Pew on “The Future of Privacy” points to the eroding notion of privacy. By 2025, as companies and nations hone their data mining skills by tapping the personal data of online users, individuals will be hard pressed to find privacy. The study says:
“We have seen the emergence of publicly as the default modality, with privacy declining. In order to ‘exist’ online, you have to publish things to be share, and that has to be done in open, public spaces.”
What does this mean for the iKids, those born since 2000? As they head into their teenage years and as they make their first forays into digital life their ideas, emotions, and opinions will be feasted upon by major corporations like Disney, Amazon, Netflix, Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, and Google to discover the newest emerging trends and to develop sophisticated marketing campaigns to sell their products.
Later in life, as they apply for college and for jobs, their online identity will be just as important as grade point averages, test scores, or essays. When they look for a life partner, a digital identity will reveal to a potential loved one their interests and desires.
Unlike previous generations, the iKids live in a digitalized world where every thought, image, and personal stuff that is put online is public domain. They don’t have the luxury of second chances. If they make a mistake, the world as they know it will know. So before you set them free, give them the gift of some important rules to keep them safe and to lower the risk of totally embarrassing themselves before family and friends.
So what are the basics you should cover?
- Assume everything you put online is public
If you make a bad remark about a friend, assume he or she will see it
If you post a funny picture, assume it will be shared with everyone
- Ask permission before downloading a new game or social media site
- Do not share personal information like:
Address of your house
- When signing up on social media sites use privacy settings
Say no to giving out your location
Say no to linking to other social media sites
For more guidelines go to:
Common Sense Media
Craig Kennet Miller is the author of iKids: Parenting in the Digital Age