The main thing young people can do is think before they share, post or participate on digital platforms. Questions to ask: Is this safe? Could this bring harm to me or others? How will my activity affect me and those who may see this? Is this something that I will be comfortable defending? Am I intentionally or unintentionally sharing sensitive information?
Young people should also be taught best, most up-to-date security practices, including password security and use of password managers. They should look into why multiple-factor authentication is an important protection to guard and passcode protect their phone and other devices, and to never share passwords, passcodes or access to devices or accounts…even with trusted friends.
What can parents do to help their college student manage their digital footprint?
Parents need to maintain an appropriate level of knowledge about technology and digital services and platforms. They don’t need to be experts, but they need to know the basics and know where to find accurate information. Parents should apply appropriate limits to use of technology based on their child’s age and needs. In general parents should be aware of what their child is doing on and with devices—and children should know that parents will be monitoring their activity.
Parents should also be aware that many apps and games designed for children have networking capabilities that can connect their child to other unidentified users. Parents should master restriction and parental control settings on devices, games and apps before allowing children to use them. Parents should understand that threats to safety and security are only part of the equation—simple overuse of devices and digital platforms has been linked to emotional, psychological and behavioral issues in children.
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