Play It Safe With Your Child’s Personal Information
“Most parents probably do not realize that the simple act of signing a child up for soccer or Little League could put enough information online to put the minor in harm’s way.”
The Internet has become an essential tool for youth sports leagues to track scores and statistics, create rosters, and post game schedules – but before logging your child’s personal information online, think carefully about how that information is being protected or posted.
From home addresses to photos, birthdates, phone numbers, and more – youth sports leagues inherently collect large amounts of personal information about their players.
As the realization that most free youth sports solutions are funded through the use and sharing of personal information comes to light, concerns about protecting the online data of youth players has been brought to the forefront of concerns for many league officials, coaches, and parents.
Advocates for data safety are increasingly worried about child identity theft and other safety concerns.
The identifications of children aren’t already under surveillance by credit monitoring agencies because they lack an existing credit file, making them even more vulnerable to identity theft that can go undiscovered for years.
Steps can be taken to minimize the risk, like sharing your child’s birth year rather than the full birth certificate. If you must provide a copy of the birth certificate, it is not safe to send any sensitive documents via e-mail. Ask the league what safeguards they have set up to protect the information on the birth certificate – where it will be stored, how long it will be kept until disposed of, etc.
Noting which information is publicly shared on the club’s website and team roster, and which combination can contribute to identity theft (i.e. full name and birthdate) can also mitigate his risk.
When a league shares details online about a team’s game schedule, it can also be over-sharing information about each player’s location.
Not only do leagues collect home addresses from each player, they may also post when and where games are played publicly, creating the opportunity for anyone to learn the whereabouts of a child.
Eliminating jersey numbers from the online posting can reduce concern.
Over 180 state bills concerning student data protection were introduced in 2015 with several federal proposals also in discussion.
In the meantime, parents and leagues need to be aware of how their service provider is handling your child’s information by reading into the vendor’s privacy policies.