As our publisher Jen will tell you, the unwatched combo of kids and technology can be a headache. When I was seven, I managed to (in the span of 5 minutes) fully password protect our old Mac and then completely forget the password. Thus resulting in a trip to the computer store for a full and expensive reboot.
It’s not as difficult today to reset your computer, but there are many other things that can happen. Let’s be real, today’s kids live in a tech savvy, online world. We all do. The internet is a magical entity capable of answering obscure questions; providing endless games and entertainment; and serving up endlessly-repeatable videos of startled cats.
What kids don’t think about are viruses, online privacy, phishing, social networking etiquette, and any other internet safety and/or security issue you can think of. But not to worry there are many things you can do to give you more peace of mind while online:
YouTube Safety Mode:
Not a lot of people realize it, but YouTube has a safety feature that will block most inappropriate or sexual content from search responses, related videos, play lists, shows, and films. For kids under four, there’s YouTube Kids that is an app featuring learning videos as well as Vine Kids. Both are curated video apps for tots.
Beware of Public Wi-Fi:
Public Wi-Fi is a fantastic way to stay connected but it also poses some significant security risks. Only transmit data that you wouldn’t mind being stolen and never enter login details or banking info. If you do need to use public Wi-Fi to send important information, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to create a more secure connection.
Programs like Net Nanny give a pretty substantial parental control across Android, iOS, Mac and Windows devices. As well, Google has a SafeSearch feature that will filter explicit content (links, videos, and images). Google also has a reporting system if anything gets through their feature.
Stop Cyber Bulling:
We love the saying, “If you wouldn’t do it face to face – don’t do it online” and it’s a great lesson for kids and adults alike while online. For example, would you go up to a complete stranger and start a conversation? Would you be abusive to friends or strangers in a pub or bar? Just because you feel protected by the apparent distance a screen gives between you and the person you’re talking to, you must remember that online is still the real world.
Turn social networks to ‘private’:
Unfortunately, Vine, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter do not have filters or safe search ability. Your best protection is to require your child to keep private accounts on each platform and then invest in a more powerful software that can monitor social networks.
Keep some passwords to yourself:
Don’t leave the app store logged in, complete with your iStore credit or credit card accessible. Mobile games make it really easy (and very tempting) to upgrade to a new level, or to unlock features by buying credits or gold. Kids need to learn that these things cost money and aren’t readily available to them.
Software security is an ongoing battle. As vulnerabilities arise and security flaws are exploited, developers deploy patches to update their software and provide users with better protection. Delaying these updates leaves your device more susceptible to an attack.