5 Tips for Your Child’s Online Privacy and Safety

Children’s online privacy and safety has become a growing concern due to numerous threats such as companies collecting and selling data, identity theft, and inappropriate web content for kids. Children as young as 2 years of age are using devices to access apps and watch videos. While this trend is increasing, so are the risks of children’s private information being sold to third parties, kids’ private information being stolen, as well as the accessibility in which children are able to access inappropriate content. 

How does the law protect children’s privacy? How can you protect your kid’s information and keep them safe while surfing the web? In this blog you will find answers to these questions and tips on how to protect your child online. 

What is the CHILDREN’S Online Privacy Protection Law?

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) imposes certain requirements on operators of websites or online services directed to children under 13 years of age, and on operators of other websites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information online from a child under 13 years of age. 

COPPA applies to commercial websites, online services, and mobile apps that collect, use, or disclose children’s personal information. Any service, site, or app that is geared for children’s use including general sites or apps must adhere to this law. In conjunction with COPPA, parents must ensure their child’s online privacy and safety by being vigilant and taking the necessary precautions. 

5 Tips to Protect Your Child Online

Are you concerned with protecting your child’s private information and what they see online but don’t know where to start? Here are some tips  to ensure your child stays safe online: 

Personally create your child’s new accounts 

When your child wants to access a new website, app, or online service make sure you are the one to sign them up. Signing up for a new service may seem easy to kids but they don’t fully understand what they are really signing up for. 

The initial sign up steps are the most important! Be meticulous in reading the “terms of use” and “privacy policy”. This will tell you everything you need to know about how the information you give at sign up and during usage will be used. 

If you need extra guidance on whether the site, app, or service your child wants is appropriate, you can always consult Common Sense Media to do a quick search on the app or service. Common Sense Media will provide you with reviews, ratings, and what other parents are saying about a particular app or website.

Don’t use private information for usernames or passwords

When signing your child up for a new account, carefully choose a username and password. Never use your child’s real first or last name as their username. This type of information can put your child at serious risk for identity theft or stranger attention. If possible, skip details such as age, address, or phone number information. The less information you give the better! In addition, consider creating a username for your child that is low-key and inoffensive. This will help to deter unwanted attention toward your child. 

Avoid using your child’s real name, phone number, or address as your password. This will help protect your child’s private information should the service holding your account gets hacked. Create a password for your child that is unique but memorable. Make sure to also follow the strong password rules such as including a combination of 8 or more letters, numbers, capital letters, and symbols. This is another layer in helping protect your child’s private information.

Start using strict privacy settings

Once set-up is complete, always visit the section marked “privacy” or “settings”. This section will give you access to the site or app’s features so that you may decide which features you want your child to use. Consider turning off settings such as chats, location sharing, and the ability for the app or website to post to social media on your behalf. If the app or website offers to add a parent password so that kids won’t have access to changing these settings you should definitely set one up. 

child online privacy and security

Manage your child’s search and browsing activity

It is nearly impossible to personally see everything your child is accessing on their device every minute they are on it. This is why it is important to manage your child’s search and browsing activity. Below are some tools and information that will help you do just that.

Google SafeSearch is a feature in Google settings that allows parents to filter explicit search results. While signed into your child’s Google account do a search on the keyword SafeSearch. Then click the settings gear icon on the right across from the search bar and select “Search Settings”. Once there, click the box beside “Turn on SafeSearch” and scroll to the bottom of the page to click “save”. You can rest assured that explicit results will now be filtered out of any Google searches your child makes.

Family Link is a Google app that will walk parents through creating and linking their own account to their child’s account. Family link helps parents monitor their child’s online activity while their child uses their device. The app also allows parents to keep an eye on their child’s screen time.

FamiSafe App is a parental control application compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Kindle. FamiSafe helps parents filter their child’s online content, manage screen time, and keep track of their kids whereabouts. 

Another way to find out what kind of content your child is browsing through is to constantly check their browsing history. This will help you monitor what websites your child is visiting. If you don’t know how to do this you can always press the CTRL and H keys at the same time on your keyboard and this will pop open your browsing history. If this doesn’t work or you are using a mobile device then head on over to YouTube to find a friendly tutorial on how to find the history settings on your device. 

These are just a few of the many tools out there to help manage your child’s search and browsing history. Regardless of what browser you are using, always take the time to look into how you can filter your child’s search results. This will give you peace of mind that your child will only be able to see age appropriate content.

Educate your child on appropriate online behavior 

One of the best ways to keep your child safe online is to teach your kids appropriate online behavior. Encourage them to communicate with you anytime they encounter a pop-up or ad and they don’t know what to click. Kids should also report anytime when the site they are visiting or an online stranger is asking them for private information. In addition, teach them to never download or create any accounts without your supervision. Let them know the consequences this could have. 

Advice your child to never share their username or passwords with others including their close friends. Explain to your child that they can’t be sure what their friend might do on their account since they won’t be able to see them every minute they are using it. Assure them that it is always better to keep their account information private. 

When allowing kids to text, chat, or post on social media make sure to emphasize the impact of posting a photo or comment. Assert that once a photo or comment is posted it can never be 100% taken off the internet. Even if the photo or comment was deleted later you can’t be completely sure that someone hasn’t already forwarded it to someone else or taken a screenshot of it.  

When your child is informed on how to behave online it is easier for them to make the right choices that will keep them safe. Along with this, it is of major importance to monitor their accounts and online usage regularly. Ultimately, online privacy and safety risks can be mitigated with vigilance, communication, appropriate online behavior, and choosing the right settings. 


Mrs. E. Martinez is an Elementary Coding Lab teacher for grades K-5th. She has a passion for teaching young coders the foundational skills of coding as well as the value it has in their everyday lives and future. As an educational technology enthusiast she supports her fellow colleagues with the latest EdTech trends and serves as an ambassador for several educational platforms.

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