Building Better Digital Citizens

Lifelock_Digital_CitizensI fly a lot as part of my job – and I’m no longer surprised when I see a one-year-old in the seat next to me using a tablet to watch farm animals before she’s old enough to talk.

I’m a parent of teenagers, and while they weren’t using touchscreens at that age, I’m no stranger to the catch-up game today’s parents play when teaching kids to use technology safely.

Our Internet culture is dramatically shifting the behavior of our kids.

In fact, among families with children age 8 and under, ownership of tablet devices has risen from 8% to 40% in two years.* That is astounding. And the number of children with access to some type of “smart” mobile device at home, like a smartphone or tablet, has increased from 52% to 75%.**

So how do we as parents adapt to this fast-changing landscape?

In addition to my job as a parent, I’m the president of LifeLock, an identity theft protection company. At work, I often see how stolen personal information is used to commit fraud.

Here’s the thing about identity theft. You can help safeguard your personal information by adopting a few simple habits. Surprisingly, in a research study we conducted, it was the younger adults who were more likely to engage in riskier behaviors.***

We hear a lot about online dangers, from cyberbullying to hackers, but we don’t pay enough attention to the positive habits that could make a difference for our kids. Just as we teach them to say “please” and “thank you,” we should also be teaching them that “123456” is not a safe online password.

As parents, we want teach our kids to model good behavior. We should show them how the rules of life apply not just in the real world, but also online.

So I’m excited that LifeLock is partnering with the PTA to teach kids how to be good digital citizens, using traditional methods like toolkits for families and newer approaches like a smartphone app.

Let’s give our kids the foundational skills to build lifelong online safety habits. We’ll give kids the skills they need to thrive both online and off, and to give parents a navigation tool that will prepare them for whatever may come next.

Have ideas about the best ways to prepare our kids? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or #lifelock #pta.

Hilary Schneider is President of LifeLock, Inc. and was previously a Senior Advisor for TPG Capital and Executive Vice President at Yahoo!.

*“Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America 2013,” Common Sense Media, October 28, 2013.


***Forrester Research, 2013.

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