The best time to create an Internet privacy/security strategy for your family is before children arrive. This isn’t practical for everyone — obviously, if you suddenly realise you need to do something to protect your existing family then you’ll need to modify these suggestions as best you can, and read on to a subsequent section see what you can do about damage limitation.
Thinking about your family’s situation before your children come to live with you and creating a simple yet effective strategy will serve you well. I know there’s so much to think about, and in a relatively short period of time, once a match has been made, but try to sit down (with your partner, if you’re adopting as a couple) and think about these things.
The most important and immediate things you’ll want to consider if adopting a younger (say preteen) child is how best to handle friends, relatives and professionals (teachers, for example) in order to maintain an appropriate level of anonymity.
There will most likely be a natural time period of adjustment when children come to live with you, as you all get used to one another in the initial attachment/funnelling process. At this time, you probably won’t be introducing a large number of people (even close relatives) to them. Therefore, the initial online safety rules will be primarily applied to you, the parents.
As more and more people are introduced to them, including close and extended family, friends and their children, and those in the nursery/school environment, the need to oversee your children’s “online presence” increases.
As children get older — often as they approach and live through their teenage years — there may well be another issue to contend with: that of children using the Internet to search for their birthparents or other birth relatives.
Just to throw one more possibility into the mix (and it’s the primary reason why considering online privacy is so important) — there is the increasing likelihood that members of a child’s birth family might try to find out information about their birth child (your son or daughter) via the Internet.
Before the rapid rise in social media, moving a child away from its birth family into a new area was usually enough to minimise the risk of uncontrolled contact being initiated. Unfortunately, there are now many online tools to allow information to be gleaned on the whereabouts of adopted children, cutting out the ‘middlemen’ of social services, letterbox contact and contact centres. Adoptive parents need to be aware of this risk, which I believe will only increase over the next decade and beyond.