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What to Know Before Gifting Electronics

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What to Know Before Gifting Electronics

This holiday season, while many parents fill their children’s stockings with smart devices, there are also conversations they should have with their kids before powering on the device. Last year 75% of all children had access to a smart device1 and 77% of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 overshare personal information online. This can put children at risk of identity theft and fraud by unintentionally oversharing personal data.

To learn more protecting personal information and balancing device use, check out these tips from personal finance expert and LifeLock educator Jean Chatsky.

  1. Develop a Family Media Agreement: A sort of contract that you write up with your kids, laying out appropriate use of media at home. Once prepared, post it on your fridge or bulletin board as a reminder.
  2. Ask your children for advice on how to configure security and privacy settings on their devices, and if they don’t know, explore together. This will give you the opportunity to talk with your children, and you’ll likely both learn in the process. This tip comes from Larry Magid, Ed.D., co-director of ConnectSafely.org.
  3. Be a role model. As in every other aspect of life, your son or daughter is likely to “do as you do,” not as you say.” This is another reminder from Larry.
  4. The Golden Rule applies online. This tip came from Kelly Mendoza, Ph.D. of Common Sense Media. And it’s easy to forget. Communicating with others online is different; we don’t see people’s faces or hear the tone of their voice. Parents and teachers need to guide kids to be kind online and stand up for each other, especially if the kids see cyber-bullying.
  5. Homework time is for homework, not for texting a friend or checking social media. Put devices in a box and allow five-minute “tech breaks.” This can help ease the “withdrawal” kids feel without devices.
  6. Keep passwords secure. Kids have a tendency to share online and device passwords with each other. This can have bad results if a friend, accidentally or intentionally, posts something online under another child’s name.
  7. Parents should know their children’s passwords. To give older teens the privacy they desire, you might have them write down their passwords, put them in an envelope and seal it. Parents have the right to open the envelope if an emergency arises.
  8. Create strong passwords. Consumer finance expert and LifeLock education advisor Jean Chatzky recommends using at least eight characters, with a mix of lower-case letters, capital letters, numbers and symbols. And don’t use words found in the dictionary. You’ll find more of Jean’s password tips here.
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