January 28th is International Data Privacy Day. Many schools recognize this day by displaying posters and holding assemblies about internet privacy. On Kids Privacy, I am posting a tip each week in January to assist parents in managing their kids’ data and digital profile. The first step is to find out what data exists about your child.
Tip #1 – Google your kid’s name.
Over vacation, I typed my kids’ names in the Google search bar. This task would have been quick if they had unique names. Unfortunately, I needed to play around a bit by adding their middle initial or a city. Eventually, I found information about all of them on the internet. Most of the information was from school websites and local newspaper articles.
My kids were not surprised by their digital profiles. In fact, one of my kids joked about asking her school for a personal exemption from Data Privacy Month because she is forced to observe it year round. What they had trouble understanding was why anyone would google them. So, we talked about why someone might google their name.
Most likely, people will meet their digital profile before meeting them face to face. Recruiters, employers, friends, roommates, dates will all google them as a way to find out who they are. People will form their initial opinion about them from their profile. In a world where googling is a verb, they need to monitor and manage their digital life.
So, mark it on your calendar. Every January, kids and parents should start the New Year by googling their name. Parents can also set up a Google Alert to receive notifications throughout the year when new information is posted. On the Google Alerts page, parents can enter specific search terms such as their kid’s name. When content appears matching these terms, google sends an alert via email.
And, if a Google search does reveal negative content or private information, check out Wild West 2.0: How to Protect and Restore your Online Reputation on the Untamed Social Frontier by the founders of Reputation.com. This book is an easy read with lots of tools and advice for managing digital information.