By Sarah Buck
The all-in-one privacy app MySudo isn’t just for the high-level privacy gurus of the tech world. As a mom, I rely on MySudo to compartmentalize the different facets of parent life and to protect my personal information and that of my children.
We must help our kids use technology safely
We all strive to raise screen-free children these days, but we know that’s not always feasible. With busy working parents comes childcare, whether in the form of a daycare, a babysitter, or sometimes even a screen. As a parent who works from home, I can tell my kids to entertain themselves, but there are times that “Nanny iPad” has to step in while I take that next Zoom call.
Our kids are growing up in the most technologically advanced time in history. My kids have been navigating iPads and TV remotes since they could walk. Technology is going to be a part of their lives; therefore, it’s imperative that we as parents help them use this technology in the safest way possible. We need to teach kids how and when to safely provide their personal information.
Apps ask for personal information that puts our children at risk
How many children’s apps want to collect personal information about your child? Is it necessary to collect private details from my three year-old? Many apps now ask school-aged children to create a custom profile or avatar. While that seems fun, interactive and innocent on the surface, the information the child puts in their profile can be used for spam and even criminal activity.
As an adult, when I sign up for apps and services, I find myself hesitant to give out my personal information. At times the questions can feel invasive and I ask myself, “Why do they need to know so much?” Is anyone else bothered by the sudden increase in pop-ups on their social media suggesting things to buy based on their search history or even location?
So why aren’t we as quick to question or monitor the information our kids are giving out? Never before in history has so much of our personal information been collected on such a mass scale. The day a mother leaves the hospital, the child is on the radar and she as the parent is being subjected to data-mining. She receives coupons for formula and diapers as soon as she arrives home, newborn in tow. These kids don’t stand a chance in this data-driven world if we can’t use the tools we have and teach them good habits now.
If you’d like some ideas on how to have important conversations with your kids about the dangers of giving out their personal information, and about building strong and safe internet habits, read this article: The 10 Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online
Now, here are 5 ways I use MySudo every day as a parent:
I limit my children’s apps to those for educational purposes (but, the one-off Transformers or Angry Birds app might get downloaded for those long car rides). If the app asks for an email address, age, gender, etc., I know it’s no longer necessary to use my personal details to complete those fields. Instead, I use MySudo and create a separate Sudo profile for my child and use the Sudo email address and Sudo phone number that comes with that dedicated Sudo. I also give a different birth date, to further protect my child’s real information.
If my child wants to help create a profile or avatar, we make a game out of it and create something silly that has nothing to do with who they really are. And if those apps want to send communications to the ‘user’, it goes straight to my own Sudo profile.
Using Sudo contact information instead of your own or your child’s personal information is a great place to start in protecting your family’s privacy.
Whether you’re registering your kids online for soccer or filling out paper forms for gymnastics classes, you can give the service provider a dedicated Sudo email address and phone number instead of your own personal ones (e.g. Soccer Sudo or Gymnastics Sudo). Then set the custom notification settings for the dedicated Sudo so you can control the communication you have with coaches and other parents, plus the inflow of newsletters and other information connected to these activities.
There are so many great subscription services out there for kids of any age. We have a monthly subscription to KiwiCo and my kids absolutely love the hands-on crafts they get every month — and I love that they’re exploring, learning, and having screen-free activities.
I use the MySudo in-app private browser to find, sign-up for, and manage all monthly subscriptions in our family. Just as I would use a Sudo profile for my own personal wellness subscriptions, I do the same for my kids. I use my child’s real name for shipping, so they get the excitement of receiving their own package, but I use a Sudo email address and phone number as the contact information. This way I get the subscription updates, but the company doesn’t have any real information about me to sell to the next service that may want me as a customer.
I also add an extra layer of privacy by using MySudo virtual cards for those reoccurring subscription payments.
Online shopping is the easiest way for companies to gather your personal information and then use it however they want. When it comes to back-to-school, birthday parties, Christmas gifts, etc., shopping with MySudo is a lifesaver.
Whether it’s Amazon, Target, or an up-and-coming online boutique, I use my Shopping Sudo throughout the process. I use the private browser to search for what I need, and when I’m ready to check out, I use my Sudo email address, phone number, and virtual card!
The absolute need for MySudo in school settings is felt from pre-school to college, homeschool to private school, and student to educator.
has to say about using MySudo for school communications.
As a mom, I use MySudo for communicating with our schools, teachers, PTA, donations, online portals, and any additional online resources the school uses.
The current school system is one huge data-mining field. A student’s personal information stays with them throughout their education, and includes their immunization records, allergies, doctors, dentists, vision and hearing tests and results, any IEP or specialized needs information, social and emotional behaviors, home address, phone number … seems a bit much, right?
All this personal information is no longer simply noted on paper in a file either; it’s all recorded into a program that is then gathered into a larger database that then goes to the district and state to support funding needs, boundary changes, hiring and more. Schools are a giant data collection source and if I can minimize what information the school collects about my child, I have an obligation to do so.
Depending on the type of school your child attends, your location and local regulations, you may be asked for personal information to qualify for attendance. You can’t avoid this but, if you can control the way you communicate with school programs, portals, and sign-ups and use MySudo as a line of defense against privacy violations, you’re doing something to take back control.
Finally, as a parent, I am my child’s biggest advocate and gatekeeper of what they’re exposed to. I want them to learn and develop healthy habits and skills to safely navigate the technological world that surrounds them. There are so many great resources for parents to learn how to recognize, manage, and help their kids understand the online world, and having MySudo as a strong privacy tool is absolutely priceless.
I truly believe the next generation is going to need more privacy protection than we do today. I’m not only protecting my personal information online; I’m starting these good privacy habits for my kids now too.