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Life and Religion

Survey: Teens not so cyber savvy
Many teens unknowingly post too much information online
 
Published Thursday, October 24, 2013
by Brandpoint

clientuploads/v38n13photos/TeenComputer_300.jpg
PHOTO/MICROSOFT IMAGES
While 89 percent of teens say they don't give out too much information online, many engage in behaviors that could put their personal information at risk.

Some parents may not know a gigabyte from Google, but they still need to help their kids stay safe and protect personal information online.

A new survey by LifeLock finds that some of today's young people don't understand the dangers of their tech-heavy lifestyles.

While 89 percent of the 700 teenagers polled said they don't give out too much personal information online (46 percent said their friends do), many admitted to engaging in online behaviors that could put their personal information at risk. Three-fourths of kids 13 to 17 included some type of personal information (partial or complete birth date, address, phone number, school, etc.) on their social media profiles.

"Clearly, there's a disconnect between what teens - and their parents - think they know about online safety and what they're actually doing," said Hilary Schneider, LifeLock's president. "While teens may be experts at using technology and social media to stay connected, we as parents must help them understand the steps necessary to protect their online privacy - or how their online actions today could affect their lives in the future."

Despite near-daily stories of social media misbehavior damaging the careers of politicians, athletes and entertainers, nearly half of surveyed teens don't expect their online activities to hurt them later in life.

"Today's teens use technology in virtually every aspect of their lives," Schneider said. "But they can still use some help from parents to ensure they safely navigate the digital world."

The survey also found that many teens were unaware of how to tell whether a site is secure before entering personal information. That’s a serious problem because children remain popular targets for identity thieves.

“They have clean credit histories," explained Schneider, who herself is a mother of teenagers. "Fraud may go undetected for years until the child applies for credit as a young adult. With the risks so high, teens and parents have to take steps to protect their privacy, security and identities online."

Schneider offers the following tips to help protect your family’s online privacy:

• Limit the personal information you share in your social media profile. Listing your full name, full address or even your birth date could potentially open the door to identity thieves.

• Do not accept "friend" requests from anyone you have not already met in person, even if he or she claims to be a friend of a friend.

• Use strong passwords for each social media account and for all your mobile devices. Strong passwords include capital and lowercase letters, numerals and special symbols. Consider using a pass-phrase like "VanceClassOf2013IsTheBestEver!" or the first letter of each word: "VCo2013itBE!"

• Do your best to verify the security and authenticity of a website before you interact with it, buy something from it or give any information about yourself. Look for the URL to begin with "https" or for the lock symbol on the page that indicates a secure site at checkout.

• Remember that anything you post online is forever. It's almost impossible to completely eliminate information from the Internet. Inappropriate material posted online now may affect your future relationships, ability to get into the college of your choice - even your future job prospects.

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