We live in an increasingly digital world, which means every day we’re putting more of our personal information online. Although we do a lot of this out of necessity and convenience, it lead to a lifestyle where almost every detail of our lives
Unfortunately, most children and teens are too young to fully understand the potential repercussions of oversharing online, which can leave them vulnerable to online harassment and cyberstalking. Keeping a close eye on what your teen is posting won’t prevent a determined stalker from harassing them — almost anyone with an online presence can fall victim to harassment — but it may help lessen some of the damage a stalker can do.
If your teen has already fallen victim to cyberstalking, there are some steps you can take to help protect them, and their information, from any long-lasting damage.
Cybersecurity expert Jamie Cambell explains to Parentology how easy it is for kids to post sensitive information online without realizing it. “2019 is an extremely difficult time for privacy matters,” he says. “Children grow up stuck with social media and often overshare without realizing the future consequences of their actions.” He says this is especially easy to do on apps where each post shows a location stamp, and on photos where identifying information is clearly visible. Sometimes teens share posts without realizing they’re sharing so much more than just a thought or an image.
Stalking in Secret
Often, the cyberstalking has been happening for a while before a victim becomes aware of it, Cambell says. Once you begin to suspect that your child has become a victim, their stalker may already know almost everything about them. They may have already accessed their accounts or begun to harass your child online via messenger or text. Cambell suggests contacting the authorities immediately, and avoiding any confrontation with the suspected stalker. “Never, ever try to take on the
Steps to Take at Home
In addition to working directly with the police, Cambell says parents should work on tightening their child’s online privacy settings by focusing on two aspects of their online presence:
- Visibility – Who is able to see their public profile, and to what extent (can they see your child’s birthday, a list of family members, every picture they have posted)? All the information your child shares online can be used against them in the form of stalking, bullying, identify theft and more. Restricting what’s visible can help limit what stalkers can do with your child’s information.
- Location – Who’s able to track your child? Sometimes cyberstalkers are people your child knows or has met before. They may already be an existing Facebook friend or someone who follows them on Instagram or Snapchat. When this happens, it means every post, picture
andstory your child shares will be visible to them. Make sure all location settings are disabled and your child is aware of any information visible in the background of their posts.
Stop Stalking Before it Starts
It may seem like the easiest way to avoid online stalking would be to keep your child’s life offline, but Cambell believes it’s almost impossible to quit social media in this day and age. “We’re too intertwined with social media as a society.” Instead, he suggests telling your kids to keep their postings sparse. “Don’t post about everything you’re doing. Restrict it to things outside of your core personal life,” he says. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, never share private pictures. There is no way to guarantee they won’t end up on someone else’s screen.