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The Resource Center Child Identity Theft & Protection | article

Parents: Make Sure Your Kids Are Using Their Christmas Gifts Responsibly

In simpler times, the most popular holiday gifts for your kids were either innocent toys or practical clothing — items that were generally easy to procure but still brought joy to children throughout the year. Unfortunately these days, nothing seems to be so simplistic, and instead of a quality sweater or a football, your children were probably asking you for the newest high-tech gadgets like smartphones or tablet computers for Christmas. It seems like every holiday season, a new must-have device is unveiled that sends parents flocking to stores in droves or flooding retailers websites so that their children will be happy campers on Christmas morning.

Now that the holidays are over, your kids have probably figured out how to use their new devices and spend a good portion of their day either checking their favorite websites or chatting with friends. If this is the first time your child has been given a smartphone, they may not fully understand some of the potential dangers that come about from misusing the device.

Whether on the phone or at your desktop, the Internet is a risky place
Identity theft can happen extremely easily on tablets and smartphones as these devices make sharing information easier than it has ever been. When you use this technology, you are still accessing the same Internet that you would be when checking emails on your home computer. Although a smartphone or tablet is vastly different than a desktop, the same dangers that you try to prevent on your home computer can come about no matter where you use the Internet.

Hackers can access phones the same way they can your computer's hard drive
Be sure to instruct your children not to share information over their smartphone or tablet that could compromise their identity. This data includes bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, even birthdays and addresses. Hackers can access these portable devices just like they can your desktop, and in some cases, the information on your phone may be even more valuable to them.

Good habits will help prevent theft
Instruct your kids to delete their text messages as often as possible, instead of waiting for their inbox to be full. Although they should know not to text sensitive personal information, if they did by accident, a hacker can view your child's messages and potentially steal their identity.

If you didn't already do it over the holidays, give your child the gift of identity theft protection now. Using one of these services can help you keep track of things that are happening in their name and can alert you to certain activities that may indicate child identity theft.