Gone are the days of easy watchfulness over kids. With all the new technology and ease of access to online activity, it’s hard as a parent to keep on top of it all to ensure our kids stay safe. When I was younger I had to pick up the phone and use my words to carry on a conversation; with the only land-line phone hardwired front and centre in the entrance to the kitchen, it was hard to hide anything from my parents. Well played parents; well played. These days it’s become easier and easier for teens to disconnect, replacing real interaction with social media apps, emoticons and 140 characters, opening the door to online dangers 24-7. Last month I discussed parental security settings for overall computer usage and protecting your family online, this month I’m getting to the nitty gritty of how to keep your teens safer while using social media because let’s face it, tweens and teens will use social media.
My preteens and teen are always seeking out ways to interact with their peers well past school hours. Facebook and KIK have always been a sore spot; I often hear “But Mommmm, all of my friends use it.” Of course I retort with “If your friends jumped off a bridge…” and “I’m not ALL your friends mother…” and soon realize I hear my mother’s voice spewing out of my mouth. Rather than preach to deaf ears, I chose to educate my kids on the dangers of social media and help them ensure safety settings for their social media apps are set appropriately for maximum security.
How to Stay Safe in Social Media
- Don’t give too much away – Be careful how much you give away about yourself in your profile. The more you add, the more an identity thief can learn about you. No clues to your home address, mother’s maiden name, age or relatives should be given. You can add your phone number but this can be locked to friends only or even just yourself and Facebook, in case of suspicious activity.
- Keep your private stuff private – Control your privacy settings. Facebook privacy settings can be set so only certain friends can see your photo’s, status updates, timeline and activity. To prevent public access, you can go a step further and remove the tagging option so friends or family cannot tag your name or profile in photos or other Facebook activity that you may not want to be linked to. Keep in mind, a future boss for your teen may want to take a look through online profiles.
- A Facebook friend is not forever – Unless you are using Facebook for marketing purposes, think about the actual ‘friends” you really want to connect with. For example that guy who you kind of knew in the your first dorm room? The random woman you once met on holiday. Do you have any idea what they are doing now? Are they trustworthy? When was the last time you heard from them? You get the picture. A little pruning of the Friends list is a good idea every now and again. NEVER publicly announce holidays or other absences on Facebook; doing so could set you up for unwanted house guests in your absence.
- Set the controls on YouTube, Vine, Instagram and other Social Media Sharing Apps – Like Facebook, Google states that no-one under 13 should use the site. However the safest bet is to set up a child user account which will block any inappropriate content. You can also turn off comments to prevent your kids being abused or bullied by other users and stop them from doing the same.
ESET provides a free tool called Social Media Scanner that can scan your Facebook and Twitter to protect you and your friends’ timeline, messages and newsfeed from malicious objects.
Theft does not have to be the only reason you should protect your digital devices from anti-theft, far more commonly loss of device is the number one reason people regret not having this software installed. Had they done so, loss of information, photos or files could have possibly been recovered. Here are a few tips that will help minimize the damage if it happens to you.
- Password-protect your computing devices.
- Always backup your files.
- Use tracking software to help get your stolen device back.
- Don’t tempt thieves with unattended mobile devices, particularly in public places. In a recent survey we found that 1 in 5 stolen devices were taken from a car, 12% from an airport, train, bus, or other public transportation, and 11% from a restaurant or coffee shop.
- Encrypt sensitive data.
- Bonus tip. Think about removing sensitive data from your device to store on the company network and access remotely over a secure connection. This way, if “bad things” happen, you’ll have much lower likelihood that the bad actors got off with critical information.
ESET Smart Security received the well-known PTPA (Parent Tested Parent Approved) Seal of Approval, a highly regarded award seal in North America. To find out more head over to the ESET Facebook Page or follow them on Twitter.
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