Kids don't know enough about online safety, expert warns

A BYRON Bay social media expert says kids simply don't know enough about staying safe online.

Kirra Pendergast, the co-founder of social media security, privacy and risk management consultancy firm eConscious Consulting, says education is key to protecting socially adventurous kids.

"I don't think they are educated well enough and training in schools does not cover enough of the risks," she said.

But parental understanding and education was also a worry for Ms Pendergast.

"Really they think they are (in tune with what their kids are up to), but there is so much more and parents need to be more aware of the risks," she explained.

Identity theft and reputation management were highlighted as the most worrying online issues kids and their parents face.

"Identity theft is a big issue with names, birth dates, where they live (through geotagging) and photos being available on a public platform," Ms Pendergast said.

"Also, personal reputation management. Some teens say and do pretty silly things online, not realising that pre-employment screening and searching through Facebook etcetera is perfectly normal and used often.

"I just wish the number was higher for teens being concerned about their privacy.

Ms Pendergast offered some helpful tips for concerned parents. "Speak openly about the risks; it is the direct equivalent to stranger danger but online," she said.

"Learn about privacy settings and ensure that you check that they are in place often. Make sure passwords are changed regularly.

"Think of this scenario. A young 14-year-old girl takes a selfie and posts it on Instagram saying 'mum and dad have gone out…I'm so bored'.

"Her account isn't private, location services are on, so some creep could see that photo and easily click down to street level to see exactly where she is posting from."



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