Protecting Our Kids Online

Katie Couric
Global Anchor
Katie's Take

Katie's Take

Are you a digital native or a digital immigrant?  If you were born before 1990 and haven't always had a computer in your room, a smartphone in your pocket and/or an iPad in your backpack…you're a digital immigrant.

But children today, digital natives, have never known life without the Internet.  Security expert Theresa Payton explained to me that while kids are incredibly tech savvy, unfortunately they're also incredibly susceptible to online predators and identity theft.

Here are some of Theresa's key tips for keeping kids safe and teaching them good online behavior:

1.  Be Where Your Kids Are:  You meet their school friends and parents.  Do the same online.  Parents need to be on the same social networks their children are to be able to speak the same language and share a common interest.  Hint:  Your Kids are not just on Facebook anymore!  Keep up with the trends.

2.  The Grandma Rule:  A good rule of thumb is to ask, "Would I be embarrassed if Grandma saw this post?"
If yes, leave it off line.

3.  Digital Boundaries:  Digital devices do not belong in the bedroom.  Have your kids and young adults "check their device" at the door.

4.  Safe Zone:  Create a safe zone for kids to encourage them to tell you immediately if they've done something bad online or seen something that worries them or is inappropriate.  Then you can fix the issue or delete a post before it snowballs.

5.  Identity Theft:  According to the FTC, 500,000 kids had their identities stolen last year.  Cyber criminals love targeting children because their credit is seldom tracked.  You can request your children's credit report or freeze their credit to help combat this issue.

Theresa said in the same way we accompany our teens in the car as they learn to drive, we should be guiding them online to make sure they learn how to surf in safety.

Here are some helpful links:

* Theresa's Book, Protecting Your Internet Identity:  Are You Naked Online?

* McAfee Study - The Digital Divide - Internet Usage for Teens:

* Federal Trade Commission's Guide "Safeguarding Your Child's Future" about preventing or dealing with identity theft:

* Carnegie Mellon's Report on Child Identity Theft: