Much of our daily lives are spent online. We rely on being digitally connected for many aspects of our lives. Work, research, education, recreational web surfing — all of those require us to be online. Though there are many positives of being connected, one of my biggest concerns is online safety for my family.
My little girl is six years old (she’ll be turning seven on Remembrance Day). She’s at an age where spending time online is a reality I have to come to grips with. She has homework that requires her to go online. Her class uses iPads and educational apps. This is a good thing. Using technology in today’s classrooms is a very positive thing. It’s just when Little One is at home and on her device, I NEED to make sure online safety is observed and practiced.
Parenting in our generation requires us to be aware of so many things we probably never thought of when we were kids.
I honestly would like to consider myself savvy enough when it comes to online security and making sure my child practices safe surfing online. This said, there are so many online threats out there that can go undetected. Online security threats are made in a way that is crafty – one wrong click on a bad link and our kids can open themselves up to a whole slew of threats.
I make sure that Little One does not use headphones so I can hear what she’s doing. I also make sure she uses her device where I can see her so I know what she’s looking at/watching/playing. I also realize that we can’t be helicopter parents and we can’t be watching what they’re doing every single minute (dinner’s not going to cook itself). What we can do is arm our kids with tools to help them practice online safety.
One thing I absolutely love about TELUS is that not only are they an excellent mobile network provider, but they also implement programs to best help their customers and members of their community (on and offline). They offer learning opportunities to their customers in the form of public seminars, TELUS Learning Centres and more.
Smartphone and Internet safety for the whole family is a must. An industry-leading educational program on Internet and Smartphone safety, TELUS WISE (Wise Internet and Smartphone Education) builds on our track record of partnering with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to offer similar educational information to Canadians. TELUS WISE offers best-in-class training for parents and anyone wanting to learn how to keep children and teens safe when using the Internet as well as a variety of tips and tools on Internet and Smartphone safety and security.
Some TELUS WISE tips to help keep your family safer online
Help keep your family safer online by following these tips on Internet and smartphone safety and security:
Be aware of risks of using Bluetooth
If you are using Bluetooth-activated devices, there is a risk of others accessing information with them. Only enable connections with trusted devices.
Parents’ tip: Always switch your child’s Bluetooth device to “undiscoverable.”
Choose applications carefully
Only purchase/download applications from your smartphone or service provider’s “app store.” Steer clear of applications that ask for access to data like your address books, picture gallery, etc. Rule of thumb: be wary of free applications. Often, free is too good to be true.
Kids often don’t realize that the game “everyone is playing” on their phone comes in an ad-filled free version and to unlock it costs real money. Help your child understand what you’ll pay for and what is coming out of their allowance.
Be cautious in using Wi-Fi
Be careful about using “free” Wi-Fi in public places – it can be an easy way for hackers to access personal information. Stop and think about how secure the Wi-Fi might be before accessing it. Don’t share personal or financial information over an unsecure network unless you are confident.
Teach your children about the risks of using open Wi-Fi in public places.
Keep your browser in check
The web browser is your gateway to the Internet and the first point of defence against malicious activity. Make sure you have the latest version of the browser installed and that it is configured to provide the desired levels of security and privacy. Also clear your browser history and cache at least once a month.
Install security software
ome smartphones come with an optional service that will help you locate your phone if it’s lost. Take advantage of this free service and set it up or purchase one of the many similar applications. Security software on your mobile device can protect you if you erroneously download a malicious app or click a bad link.
Turn off most geo-tagging
Photos taken from most smartphones include a geotag – the exact location of where the picture has been taken. Think of it this way – if you take a picture of your child’s first day at school and share this picture or post it to your favorite social networking site anyone can find the exact location of where this picture is taken. To turn of geotagging – go to ‘camera settings’ on you smartphone and turn geo-tagging off.
Ensure geo-tagging is turned off on your kids’ smartphones.
Set strong passwords
A password can prevent someone from gaining access to your device and doing things like circulating your pictures or sending messages in your name. A good password or other form of authentication can also stop someone from hacking into your social networking accounts or changing passwords on your applications. Set the security settings on your device so that it automatically locks after a specific period of inactivity. Remember to use a difficult password; easy-to-guess passwords are less secure.
Your children should understand that passwords should not be shared with their friends. While parents have a legitimate reason to know their children’s passwords, others do not.
Put a Google Alert on your name so you can track what is being said about you online. Just go to google.com/alerts and type in your name in quotation marks. You will receive Google alerts via email when your name appears online. This is not a 100% guarantee but a great start to tracking your digital footprint.
You can set a Google alert for your kids’ names as well.
I could live a life worrying and obsessing about online safety and security threats for my family’s online practices, but with TELUS WISE, I feel equipped to deal with online safety with my family. There are more tips than the ones listed here. You can read more on the TELUS website.
My daughter has started getting interested in more and more apps. She loves playing games on her iPad. Admittedly, I don’t like spending money on apps, but after reading the TELUS WISE tips, I think we’ll be deleting a whole bunch of apps this week! There are many apps out there that are not trustworthy.
I also really like the “Google yourself” tip. I actually run Google searches on myself every now and then. I’m always curious to see what might pop up. Oftentimes I’m surprised to see an article about me that was in the newspaper or in some publication. I have tried my best to keep Little One’s real name from appearing online. So far, so good. There’s just one photo of her when I used her real name, but you can’t really see face, as she was an infant in the NICU.
I’m somewhat public online, but when it comes to certain things, like my daughter, who is a minor, I do not disclose overly personal info. I don’t even use her real name on my personal Facebook page. There may be moments when I slip and mention her real name, but not often.
How do you keep your family safe online? Are you familiar with TELUS WISE?
For more information about TELUS WISE, visit wise.telus.com.
Disclosure – I am a #TeamTELUS Advocate. Though I am affiliated with TELUS, all thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.