Kids love the spooky fun of Halloween because there's an element of excitement, mystery, and “danger.” While “scary” Halloween traditions are manufactured, there are ways to help protect your kids from truly scary threats that seem to show up at this time of year when people are vulnerable, and focused on having fun.
Most parents may feel their kids are safe. Yet everyone can use extra support protecting their kids — especially when it comes to minimizing the risks on the internet. Help your employees out by sharing these tips to keep their children safe online.
Help your employees take charge of how they post photos or videos online
Every digital camera embeds geolocation data in each image as a default. When you first activate a smartphone, it usually asks if it can track your location. Some people may want that because they like using other phone features that rely on location such as maps and restaurant finders.
Anyone can set their cameras, including those on smartphones, to not store geolocation data (a.k.a., “tags”) with every photo. Some people want that metadata embedded in photos for their use, but don't want to share that data online. Everyone can remove the metadata from a specific photo before it's uploaded to a public platform. Many services, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter automatically strip EXIF (geolocation) data from uploaded images. But, there's no indication that they delete this data. Meaning, if Facebook is breached, your EXIF could potentially become exposed.
Safety tip: Services may or may not remove the data they say they are. The more reliable option is for people to remove that geolocation data either as a default setting or on an application by application basis. As for kids who get excited about posting pics from their phones quickly: the safest course may be to set their phones not to embed the geodata.
Other ways photos give clues away
Embedded data isn't the only way a person can inadvertently share location information.
Pictures taken at a kid's soccer game could show signs with the name of the park where they play. Their team jerseys can give away the name of their school or league. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) warns that predators mine publicly posted photos for such clues. Not to mention how the slow build up of information posted over time can collectively provide clues. A little here, a little there, and soon a complete “picture” can form.
Safety tip: Make sure private online albums are protected with strong passwords. Parents should think about whether photos taken with a phone should automatically upload to the cloud. Think twice before sharing such images on a social media platform if you haven’t reviewed your privacy settings recently to make sure they’re what you want. In fact, more parents are thinking twice about posting their kids' photos online at all.
Staying safe on social media
While kids may not be using Facebook, they're regularly posting photos and videos to sites like Instagram and TikTok. Despite social platforms requiring users to be at least 13 years old, most kids set up their first social media account by the time they're eleven.
Safety tip: Use this checklist to keep kids safe online:
- Minors shouldn't use their full names. They may even prefer to use a nickname or create a social media-only “handle” (or alias).
- Kids should always go into the privacy settings for each app to control who can see their content. They should only let people they trust and know see their content.
- Kids shouldn't accept friend requests from people they don't know personally.
- Use PrivacyArmor Plus to monitor social media accounts for the whole family. The social media protection also sends alerts if someone uses “grooming” language or requests to meet offline.
- Teach kids to think carefully about what information they're posting online. Even if the kids have set secure privacy settings, someone may share what they post publicly. Once posted, it may be forever on the internet. Even if they delete it.
Help your employees keep their kids safe all year round
Halloween is fun for kids because it’s scary. Being online should just be fun — and safe. Share these tips with your employees. They’ll appreciate knowing how seriously your company takes protecting their and their children’s online safety.