Netflix launched a new documentary this summer. The Great Hack highlighted “the way data tracking, harvesting, and targeting take the strands of information we generate and ties them around us,” according to Wired magazine. It also highlighted the need for parents to focus on child identity theft protection.

Focusing on Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election campaigns, as well as other, international election campaigns. The film uses this scandal to illustrate that data mining constructions and technology can undercut individual choice and privacy.

The most compelling visual of the film is when the codirector Karim Amer’s personal data flows out of him as his day unfolds. Each of his data points that we all create throughout our days seems harmless. But, when those points are collected and woven into manipulation, everyone who generates data is at risk, especially your children.

Child identity theft protection is a growing concern. Today’s generation is the first to create a digital footprint from the moment of birth.

From a cybersecurity perspective, how can we raise digitally-aware and self-protective young people who understand the ramifications of their digital choices? In 2017, over one million children had their identities stolen. And, according to the 2018 Child Identity Fraud Study, two-thirds of those victims were under the age of eight.

“Data breaches are more of a risk for minors than they are for adults.” In 2018, 11 percent of all U.S. households had at least one minor. “Of those who were notified that their information was breached, 39 percent of the children became fraud victims, compared with 19 percent of the adults notified about a breach.”

What Can You Do To Protect Your Child’s Identity

Begin to help them view their digital choices with a more careful perspective?

  1. Know the warning signs of child identity theft – The FTC has reliable content on what to look for and how to protect and prevent.
  2. Keep an eye on your child’s school data – Just in 2019, 500 K-12 schools have been compromised, and 49 school districts have had ransomware attacks.
  3. When your child turns 16 – Check whether your child has a credit report and fix any errors. You might not think they have credit, but they may have a report indicating the malicious use of their data.
  4. Scrutinize online content – There are countless sources of free, entertaining online content for kids. Many target children with ads, as well as content that gather information from their use. Stay abreast of how sites engage you and your child, as well as the laws (like COPPA – the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act).
  5. Think about how your digital sharing could affect your child. A piece in the Atlantic stated: “And, of course, parents are already some of the biggest violators of their kids’ privacy anyway, posting content and leaving digital footprints well before the age of consent.” Take a second look at the types of data you share about your children and think about whether they could be used to steal his or her identity or for some other manipulative effect.

Even Silicon Valley is changing how they are parenting in this digital-from-birth world. Many of the top schools where tech execs send their kids have no-tech curriculums, and they train their nannies to limit screen time and technology exposure, all of which may aid in the child identity theft protection fight.

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