This week the EU celebrates another Safer Internet Day 201 (SID2012). I've personally supported this effort over the years as I think the organizers do a fine job of bringing to the forefront good advice on how to stay safe online for parents, schools, communities and our youth. They also provide a plethora of collateral materials to allow you to go as deep as desired on many of the nuances of online safety and security for our youth.
Apropos of SID2012, a few days ago I was involved in a discussion on Facebook with my friend and fellow Privacy and Online Safety advocate, Bethan Cantrell (who also happens to be the IEB/xBox Privacy Manager ) surrounding online safety messaging to our youth. The premise of the discussion was, if you only have 30 seconds, what are the most important items to discuss?
Here are five I believe to be among the most important. What are yours?
1. Friends -- no need to "friend" everyone. Would you invite the entire school -- be it elementary, middle or high -- to your home and pull out the family photo albums and journals from the last few years for everyone to look, copy and retain?
2. Oversharing -- resist the urge to share *everything* about your life within the social networks -- tagged pictures, photos with your name, address, or license plates, your pattern of movement -- to include coordinating children's car pools via Facebook or Twitter.
3. Passwords -- Change them regularly, use them only once for one account. If you use identical passwords across multiple online accounts you are putting the security of all those accounts in the hands of the one with the weakest security architecture. Lose one, and the criminals will find a way to exploit them all. Easy way to remember that was given to me many years ago: Passwords are like toothbrushes; you don't share them and you change them regularly.
5. The computer is for receiving information -- for the very young -- the computer attached to the Internet is where we receive information, not share information. Younger and younger, our children are arriving online and the very young have little or no decision making skills -- keeping it simple puts the correct stance -- don't share anything within their nascent decision making capabilities. (hat tip to Scott Porad, CTO of Cheezburger (for sharing this tip with me some years ago at Gnomedex 2009).
Clearly, this list could grow to the hundreds or thousands as we each hone in on an area of interest. The end goal for you should be, teaching your children how to make online decisions with the same level of detail and scrutiny as they do their off-line (or IRL -- in real life) decisions.
The above were my five; what are yours?