Oct 08

Cyber-Safety – how old are you online?

I wanted to chat this week about social media. You know things like Facebook, MSN, Twitter, Instagram, MySpace (in fact nearly all social networks).

I feel like I need to give a bit of a Public Service Announcement. Cos this week I’ve been asked a few times about how to look after kids on Facebook.

The thing is, these kids were all in Primary School and are under the age of 13.

And most of these social networks have an 13 years or older policy. So you shouldn’t be on there if you are under 13.

Look, I get it. I know kids want to be online and want to do what their friends are doing and what their older siblings and cousins are doing.  And they have some kind of persistence gene that activates around age 8. Really, I’ve seen it. It’s not easy to combat.

But, unfortunately if your kids have access these sites before the age of 13 you open up them to the real possibility of being exposed to inappropriate advertising.

That’s because Facebook, Twitter and so on assume that you are the age that you say you are. And saying you are older is as easy as clicking a button when they sign up.

BUT – here’s the problem. Whatever age you sign as – you get the matching advertising for that age.

So if you are in Grade 5 or Grade 6 and you tell website that your are 17 or 18 years old,  imagine the content that advertisers will serve up to an 18 year old – we really don’t want that kind of content being shown to our primary-school-aged child.

So, have a chat with your child and see what they are up to online.  There’s plenty of time for Facebook and there are other alternatives (like Edmodo maybe) that kids can use to get online with their friends in a much safer way…

As always, for more cyber-safety information and strategies, please go to www.cybersmart.gov.au