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Keeping Kids Safe with Internet Toys

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We recently reported that VTech, maker of internet connected toys for young children, was hacked and that almost six and a half million kids' profiles were stolen.  In light of that, here are some thoughts on keeping your children's identities from being stolen.

First off, why does this matter?  Kids don't have access to credit cards or anything like that.  The big deal is that, even though Social Security numbers were not a part of the breach, one could feasibly apply for credit cards.  Since it's very rare for parents to monitor their children's credit reports, a kid's information could be exploited for years, and by the time it's discovered their credit could be destroyed.

In an even worse scenario, the information could be used to kidnap a child.

What can be done to mitigate the chances of your child's information being stolen?

You don't have to use your own kid's name or their information.  You can use a false name or a nickname, and if you absolutely must have a profile picture, it doesn't have to be of your child.  Let your kid pick out a favorite picture, or use a toy they like.  And there's really no need to use your actual address.

Facebook and Instagram are very popular ways of letting your family and friends know about the things going on in your kid's life.  You're very likely not going to not post pictures of baby's first steps or the first day of Kindergarten.  You can, however, make sure your privacy settings only allow people you know to see your pictures.  You can also turn off location specific information, especially when it comes to posting pictures of school or the home.

What about kids who are old enough to have their own online accounts?  It's very difficult to monitor everything your kid does online, no matter how hard you try.  The best thing to do in this case is to make sure to talk to your kids about the dangers of social media, being online and sharing information.  Teach them to consider the pros and cons of sharing anything online.