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Web Publishing and Kids

18 and partying... do you want to broadcast this?
18 and partying... do you want to broadcast this?

Did you know that once your kids graduate high school or college, they're going to need to find a job? It's true! Did you also know that employers can be just as tech-savvy as your kids (or more so)?

Take this picture. You can see some girls having a "good time" while possibly illegally drinking underage. Let's say one of these girls is your daughter (we'll call her Suzie). Not thinking that it would come back to bite her, she posted this picture and caption on Myspace, Facebook, or her personal blog site. Fast forward a few years and Mr. Employer has Suzie's resume sitting on his desk. Wanting more than paper information, Mr. Employer does a quick web search and brings up Suzie's page with years worth of blog entries and pictures. Will he like what he sees?

It gets worse. Besides biting your kid in the butt, this can come back to bite you as well. Let's say she posts the following in her blog:

Suzie's Blog

Bummer! My parents are fighting again!

Posted: October, 10, 2004

This is SO LAME! I can't believe them!! Why do they always have to yell at each other? Just because my Mom smoked Dad's last joint… ugh!

Damn, Timmy is crying. He's just a baby for crying out loud! Of course he's going to cry when Mom and Dad are screaming at each other late at night. I better go get him so they don't take it out on him again.

Whether this post is based in truth or your kid is just "playing around", this kind of information could bring in law enforcement, child services, and who knows what other kinds of trouble. For example, what about the risk of drawing the attention of online predators?

The fears are well publicized based on a few exceptional cases: Someone finds your child through the Internet and does something bad to them. But according to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, the vast majority of real-life encounters of "Internet Friends" do not end in violence. Stories of kids getting involved with older strangers usually involve teens (not younger kids) who voluntarily met them knowing their intentions. But it's hardly comforting to know that your 13 year old kid is in a "consensual" relationship with a 28 year old.

Whether consensual or not, the action is generally initiated by the predator and not your kid. Predators are going to "shop" online for information on likely targets and pick the ones that match what they're looking for, and then narrow it to the targets that are either especially interesting or especially vulnerable.

What to do about it

First teach them about Internet Safety including how to set up and use their social network profiles. But also make sure to Monitor their Internet and web service usage so that you can see problems before it's too late.

If you've only just discovered bad content online, it's not too late to do something about it. First, delete the data from any website under your control. As for ones that aren't in your control, check out these resources and the ones they point to as well:

Remember that it's much, much harder to remove data once it's been posted (''you can't un-ring a bell'' as they say). Learn to be careful BEFORE you post and teach your kids the same.
Having a conversation in public place is usually safe because people won't necessarily hear you or care what you say. When when you speak online in Chat, Instant Messaging, Forums, and Internet Forums, everything can change.
It might be fun to post information online about your thoughts or feelings, but that can come back to bite you.
Your kids are probably downloading music and movies. Be sure you handle the risks before it's too late!
Make sure you limit the damage your kids can do to your computer.
IDENTITY THEFT
How to Steal Identities - Why It's So Easy
Credit Freeze
Data Defense
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Id Theft Insurance
The Identity Theft Victim's Mini-Guide to Recovery
PRIVACY
The Geek Privacy Principle
Nothing to Hide
Data Abuse
RFID - Radio Frequency IDentification
Privacy Alias/Persona
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INTERNET SAFETY
Online Addiction
The Consequences of Posting Online
Photo Safety
Tricks and Scams
Account Hijacking
Trusting Companies
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Bad Passwords
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Password Mugging
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