The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Internet Privacy For Children
Just as most things begin in the home, from teaching a child how to behave in a social setting, to using manners, to not talking to random strangers, a child will also learn to use the Internet at home. Part of a parent’s job, when it comes to teaching their child how to use the Internet, is the importance of the awareness of strangers on the Internet, and how badly these strangers want to steal identity and information. Just because we cannot physically “see” these strangers does not mean they are not there. They are there and they are real people doing bad things.
Getting this message across to a child might seem difficult at first, but it is important to teach them who they are and that they are the only person in the world who is born as them. If someone else pretends to be them, especially online, for example, creating a fake Facebook account or email address or screen name with one’s name and pretending to be them, it is not okay.
This should be further established with teachers and their assignments in schools, as children begin using computers and learning how to use the Internet. While there is a certain amount of data that we reveal about ourselves simply by creating an account on social media or entering in a search query on a search engine, there are plenty of tools and things we can do to protect our identities, and children should be made aware of the importance of using these tools and protecting their identities.
Privacy on the Internet is nearly impossible nowadays, but establishing what it means and why we cannot give away specific information like your full name, where you live, your phone number, your mother’s name, your father’s name, or any other identifying information is extremely important. Teaching children to use pseudonyms or “handles” (such as is done in gaming), as authors often have done, is more important. Having a child choose a nickname or a name they love that cannot really identify them is important. This can be established in the home or at school.
If children are not taught about the importance of what it means to protect their own identity, they will not understand the dangers they face by giving away their identity. It is unfortunate that millions of Americans, every year, are still scammed and phished out of millions of dollars, from many places out of country, where the United States government has absolutely no jurisdiction, so a person who freely gives up their bank account information and has their entire life savings accounts wiped out cannot recover any of that money.
The fact that Nigerian scams and other scams are still with us today, in emails, in phone calls, and in text messages, means that people are still falling for them, and the industry of this business is resulting in millions of dollars every year being stolen. The sob story about someone’s aunt or uncle dying, winning the U.K. or Nigerian lottery, or simply helping someone out by holding money for them, but all you have to do is hand over your name, phone number, address, and eventually, your bank account information, is definitely not a good sign. There are also scams for jobs, in which you have to actually pay money upfront to work, and those too, are likely to be scams.
There is a scam for everything to try and get your money on the Internet, from a fake e-commerce website, to making a few hundred dollars a week by sitting on your ass and doing nothing (don’t you wish!), to winning a lottery you never played overseas, to helping someone’s dying aunt or uncle to whom you have never even heard of… and you think to yourself, “Not me, I would never fall for it”, yet why do millions of Americans every year continue to fall for these scams?
What is the latest scam going on? The “I.R.S” company, which somehow has phone numbers around the United States, but is likely in India, the Philippines, or Nigeria, is now calling and texting people, and telling them they can pay them in Xbox and Playstation gift cards. You would think people would know better, but the very mention of the “I.R.S.” (the official company is actually spelled IRS) scares people into believing they are going to jail unless they buy a gift card and read off the numbers on the back to people. If you suspect any suspicious activity from the IRS, don’t hesitate to call the official IRS and confirm that they are the ones trying to call you.
In addition to this scam, there is also an FBI scam going on that pops up on your computer, a malware type of virus that cons people into calling a phone number, and also buying gift cards, reading the back of them, and giving over that information, scamming millions of people out of millions of dollars every year. With the mention of any type of authority such as “CIA”, “FBI”, “IRS”, “US.GOV”, people get so scared and are pressured into the guilt of making the quick decision of spending money they don’t really have because they want to “make the problem go away” and “not deal with it”.
If you didn’t purchase it through a website like Amazon.com, Ebay.com, or some other legit e-commerce website, the chances are, you owe the website nothing. If something suddenly pops up on your computer demanding money or that you call some number in order to fix something, it is likely you have a virus known as malware or adware and you need to get rid of it, either through a certified computer professional, or learn how to clean the computer virus out yourself.
If you are suspicious about something popping up on your computer, you are better off calling a local police number (not 911), and giving the number over to them, and asking them to look into it. You could also contact your State’s Attorney General, who believe it or not, exist to protect your best interests, so if you strongly believe there is criminal activity involved, in which case, this is an ongoing scam in which money is trying to be extorted from you, you would be justified in contacting an Attorney General and having them investigate.
All of this could have been avoided if people were properly educated on how to use the Internet. The Internet is an open market and it really does not come with any instruction manual. Anyone with a connection and a computer can log on, type something in, and access the Internet in seconds. Within those seconds, anyone can be scammed and have their identity stolen, their bank accounts wiped out, and their entire life completely changed.
A new generation is going to soon be using the Internet, if they are not already, and if you are not educated about it, the chances of your children being educated about it are less likely so. It is time to tell your children about the harsh realities of the Internet. Literally, anything you want to see or know on the Internet can likely be found, though I highly recommend you keep your sick thoughts buried deep within the unknown and gray mind. While there is a lot of greatness also happening on the Internet, there is the equal likelihood that there is someone out there trying to steal information, identities, and money. They do it for a living and it is their job! They wake up everyday and that is what they do for work! Just as you teach your children to be cautious and aware when it comes to strangers in the real world, you need to be just as educational when teaching them about the reality of strangers on the Internet. Unless you personally know the person offline, the chances of them being “your friend” online are very unlikely.
That is how dangerous the Internet really is.
Please educate your children on privacy and the Internet.