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Posted on February 10, 2016

Think Of The Children! Online Privacy Lessons For Parents

A few weeks ago, just as the holiday shopping season was getting under way, it was revealed that Chinese-based toy manufacturer VTech was hacked, and the personal information of 200,000 children was stolen. The average age of a child in the database is 5 years old. Security researchers have shown that VTech’s efforts to protect the children’s data were completely inadequate. This unfortunate situation presents us with a good opportunity to discuss the privacy threats faced by children on the web.

It’s important to understand that online tracking doesn’t discriminate based on age. Children are generally subject to the same forms of data collection as adults—and with more serious consequences. As noted by journalist Steve Ragan, folks generally don’t purchase credit monitoring services for their children. Consequently, it may be years before there is a realization of stolen identity. Those who have experienced identity theft understand how difficult it is to repair the damage—closing fraudulently created accounts, removing fake charges, etc. Now consider the anxiety of untangling the same mess of continually undetected fraud for over 10 years. That’s the danger faced by children on the web.

A more subtle—but also more dangerous threat—is the trackers’ slow and steady collection of data about children every time they’re online. Imagine: By the time most children reach 18 years old, thousands of pages of information about their online behavior, habits, interests, reading, viewing, and purchasing preferences already exists in databases all over the world. It’s impossible to know how this information may be used, or how it may hurt these children’s futures.

USE PRIVACY PROTECTION SOFTWARE

Even if you personally don’t mind having your privacy violated on a daily basis, if you have a family then it’s important that you take steps to protect their identities & private data. Clear your cookies (either with TrackOFF or manually) before and after your children use the computer. Protect them from the latest form of online tracking — digital fingerprinting — with TrackOFF.

Your children will thank you later.

— Chandler Givens
Co-founder, TrackOFF
[email protected]