Steven Toporoff, who is one of The Federal Trade Commission’s attorneys, stated in a New York Times article that in 2012 more than 22,000 identity theft complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concerned minors. Toporoff also added that child identity theft is a persistent problem. However, it is difficult to assess the magnitude of this problem because parents are usually unaware that anything is wrong until their child becomes a young adult.
A report conducted by Hart Research Associates shows that 51 percent of the teens surveyed are extremely concerned about someone stealing their identity using information they have posted online. Parents can learn how to protect their children from identity theft and what to do if their child’s identity is stolen at the FTC’s website.
Create Rules for Internet Use
- Your family’s attitude about Internet safety must be clear and concise. It should never waiver.
- Inform your teen which sites she can visit and which she cannot. She also needs to know what apps and social media sites are OK to use.
- Be sure to set privacy settings on her social media sites to monitor whom she is communicating with in her digital world.
- Regulate the amount of time she spends online by setting log off times.
- Protect her identity by locking her credit report.
- Use monitoring software like Spytech SpyAgent ($70), AVG Family Safety ($50/year) or Spectorsoft Spector Pro ($100) to deter negative behavior.
- Remind her to think before she posts because once she posts it, she cannot take it back.
- Have her set her social media privacy settings to “friends only.”
- Do not use location-based services online.
- Avoid providing optional information.
Technology is continually changing so you must be able to recognize the current trends and possible dangers. Identity theft prevention is possible but you need to know the warning signs for other online and mobile dangers, such as cyber-bullying, sexting and sexual solicitation. Your teen might be at risk if she:
- obsesses over the Internet
- gets angry when she is unable to get online
- is secretive about her online activities
- receives phone calls or gifts from strangers
- engages in unhealthy relationships
- withdraws from friends and loved ones
- injures herself
- seems depressed
- starts abusing substances
- shows signs of an eating disorder (binging and purging)
3 Extremely Popular but Dangerous Apps
1. Vine by Twitter: Popular with teens, this video sharing app allows users to make and share looping videos. The problem is that once your teen obtains this app she will be able to access videos that may contain sexually explicit content. Viewing videos is only a portion of the problem as your teen may decide to create and then share mature content of her own. Because Vine allows for finding users nearby, it is essentially a predator’s playground.
2. Tinder: This is a dating app that functions like a game. This app is about hooking up, and the age restriction is a mere 12 years old. Once the app is installed, it invites your teen to post a photo of herself. The app requests access to her location. Once completed, she can browse the profiles of people in her area to see if she likes anyone. If she does, she taps the green heart. If he likes her back, she will receive a notification and a chat feature opens up so they can communicate with one another.
This app has several red flags:
- It accesses your teen’s location to help her find someone to meet up with in real life.
- Anyone can like her, which can lead to temptation.
- This app is the perfect tool for pedophiles and predators to find their victims.
3. Snapchat: This messaging service allows users to send photos with text to other Snapchat members. These photos and messages vanish within 10 seconds of receipt. However, if the recipient has downloaded Snap Hack, he can save any photo he receives through Snapchat to his camera roll. With Snap Hack, he can view and edit the photo any way he wishes.
With three school-aged children, Amy knows a thing or two about parenting. She loves teaching her kids to appreciate the outdoors.
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