Watch what they Tweet

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Jun 8, 2010

by Lianne Castelino

One of the world's leading authorities on privacy issues opened my eyes to a whole new world I never really considered as a parent, during her address at an international conference on communications that I attended yesterday.

Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Ontario's Privacy Commissioner, interntionally-reknown privacy expert and creator of the concept of “Privacy by Design”,  covered a myriad of issues during what was an incredibly informative and enlightening address.  None more pertinent for parents though than the issue of “what your kids post online can easily come back to bite them.”    

One of her points was specifically targeted at older kids – teens — high school and university students.  And was rooted in this significant statistic – that more than 70% of recruitment by employers these days is done online – through LinkedIN (a professional networking tool), and other social media vehicles (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).   The individual that is NOT careful about what they post or who they associate themselves with, or what they say in their profiles will likely seriously regret this transgression because the information is all “out there” and will be forever — and because someone is reading it. 

So whether your child is posting items as a joke or responding to someone else's comments – they need to be accountable and responsible.   Dr. Cavoukian added that potential employment opportunities, post-secondary scholarships, internships, etc., could all be jeopardized by inappropriate material being published —- material that employers, school administrators and others are reading online.

That was not on my radar as my kids are much younger than this age group.  But, hold on, there was more for me and kids tweens and teens.


Yes I'd heard of it but again, really never paid attention to the concept cause my kids are under 12 years old.   Doesn't matter, I learned.

An example of texting is a young girl taking a picture of herself wearing very little, then emailing it to her 'significant other'.  What many of these girls don't realize, said Dr. Cavoukian, is that those boys then could turn around and send that photo off to 50 of their closest buddies.  What horror for everyone involved – starting with that young girl.

Dr. Cavoukian scours the continent and really the globe communicating this message to students, social media entrepreneurs, corporations (Google, Facebook, etc)., and the general masses. 

Being aware and mindful of what your kids are doing on the internet starts as soon as they know how to use a computer – which these days is around 5 or 6 years old.  Internet safety experts will tell parents – keep the computer in an open, common space – not in a child's room where you may not always have access.  This little step is just the start in being PROACTIVE when it comes to your child's internet usage and ultimately PRIVACY as they get older.

Proactive parenting.  Proactive privacy.  Pertinent and powerful messages for parents and kids alike.

Related content:

WebTV interview with KINSA (Kids Internet Safety Alliance) CEO, Paul Gillespie:…

Dr. Ann Cavoukian:

Privacy by Design:







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