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Growing up online: UA panel discussing kids and the internet

Posted at 7:34 PM, Oct 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-11 00:46:09-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) -- From Twitter, to Snapchat and apps like Tinder, teens are growing up online with more access to information than any other generation.

What concerns do you have when it comes to your child and internet privacy?

A forum organized by the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences will discuss kids and how new technology influences their lives.

The event at the Fox Theater on October 19 will be the first of a series of lectures concerning web privacy.

Panelists will include Chris Segrin, the chair of the UA Department of Communication, Stephen Balkman, the founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, and Amanda Lenhart with the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Segrin is a behavioral scientist who studies interpersonal relationships and mental health. He says when it comes to kids and the internet, concerns from parents include cyberbullying, and things like online surveillance.

Parents have to be willing to have awkward conversations with their kids about things like content on the internet, Segrin said, and what you post may be available for everyone in the world to see 15 years from now. He says it is important for parents to teach their kids about the permanence of the internet.

"Kids will do things in the here and now that maybe they don't think 10 years from now that may not be the best thing," Segrin said. 

There are some simple steps you can take to ensure your child's privacy, Segrin says, like changing the passwords to computers and adjusting privacy settings.

"A lot of software that we use every day, like web browsers, have default privacy settings that we can actually adjust and most people don't do that," Segrin said.

Cookies enables companies to track what you are looking at online, which could mean third parties could use that information to target your kids with ads, Segrin said. You can switch your browsers to private he says. For example, if you use Firefox, you can go into "Options" and click on "Privacy" to adjust settings.

If you want to monitor what your child is looking at, Segrin says there is a "happy medium" where you can set off tracking history for 24 hours to a few days.

Segrin says you can also adjust your kids phone so they can not send photos. You have to contact your phone provider for that, he said.

Ultimately, Segrin says parents shouldn't panic when it comes to kids and their internet usage, it's just important to have conversations about what they are looking at and posting.

If you would like to submit a question for next week's panel, you can post it on Facebook.