Category: Online Safety for Kids

How Your Child’s Data Is More Important Than You Think

Girl on Phone on Social Media

Last year, millions of students, parents, and teachers were forced to make the difficult transition to online learning. The abruptness of this transition meant that most of the attention was placed on creating a system that was functional and far too little effort was allocated to cybersecurity.

The danger here is that this oversite combined with the drastic increase in remote learning puts millions of children at risk from privacy concerns that even parents and teachers may not even know exist.

Old Privacy Concerns

The harrowing truth is that these privacy concerns are not new. In fact, the FBI has warned the pre-university students face a number of cybersecurity risks that include the exposure of their personal identifiers, biometric data, school information, location, browser history, IP addresses, and many other data that should be closely guarded.

What Exactly Can a Criminal Do with This Data?

While your child’s data may not seem like a valuable resource, there’s so much a criminal can do with your child’s data. The most prevalent use of a child’s stolen data is in the creation of a synthetic identity, which is a “unique” identity created by piecing together bits of data from a collection of different individuals. These identities are then paired with an unused Social Security number.

How Does This Harm My Child?

As absurd as it may sound, there are limited measures that can prevent a fraudster from applying for credit through an underage Social Security number. Once a fraudster has access to a credit line, they can begin to undermine your finances right from under your nose by building credit, gaining account access, and by amassing heart-rending debts over time.

The primary purpose of using children’s data for this type of fraud is that parents don’t generally check their child’s credit reports or teach their kids about identify theft prevention.

The worst part is that this security compromise can go unnoticed until the child (now a young adult) tries to apply for a student loan, a credit line, or a car loan. Criminals can wreak havoc on your finances in a matter of minutes. Imagine what they can do with several years.

Can I Protect My Child?

Fortunately, this threat can be averted by establishing good internet security habits at home. Many of these habits, such as the use of strict privacy app settings, enabling two-factor authentication, and the use of antivirus software, are general safety practices that every citizen ought to know by now. Other measures function as an additional security layer for when you use your device as a conduit of data, as is the case in remote learning and in remote working setups. Parents aren’t hopelessly vulnerable to these attacks, but even a single security lapse can cost you dearly.

This Threat Will Only Worsen in The Near Future

Even when this problem seems as bad as it already is, the threat to data privacy will only become worse with the advent of data-focused technologies such as artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

Artificial intelligence will require a lot of raw data before it can function the way it was intended to – which is to be able to assimilate new information to alter its processes on its own. This can easily become an excuse to collect data from users, especially from those who choose to opt into the services that are provided by these programs.

The introduction of the internet of things into the consumer market will mean that there will be a sudden and drastic increase in the devices that will be able to collect data from their users, which will make it much more difficult to control the flow of data, especially when children are involved. We cannot yet implement security measures for a problem that has not arisen, but the one thing that’s sure to happen is that things will only become more complicated, which is why it’s important to establish good data security habits as early as now.

Remember, even when your child’s data may not seem like much, it can be used to devastating effect by criminals. Your child’s data is more important than you might think; be sure you guard it accordingly.

Safe Instagram for Teens – A Detailed Parent’s Guide

Instagram Privacy for Kids

One of a parent’s nightmares is to see their child falling into the nippers of social media platforms, especially Instagram.  When people are not aware of its hidden dangers, they can lose money, become victims of data theft, and even get blackmailed.

Let’s have a closer look at Instagram dangers no one talks about.

Safety Concerns for Your Teen on Instagram

Before we talk about ways to keep your kids safe on Instagram, let’s talk about the dangers that are eyeing for your teens:

  • Every one in ten Instagram accounts is fake, created either to steal the data or inject a virus/malware into the targeted device.
  • A recent Pew survey revealed that around 59% of teens had been bullied online. Every one in five teens has been bullied on Instagram.
  • Recent research from Arkose Lab revealed that 27% of social media transactions happened between January 2020 and March 2020.
  • Instagram has been a favorite place for hackers and scammers from the day it was launched. Scams of all sorts like job scams, romance scams, shopping scams, and the like often happen on Instagram.

The above-mentioned data is adequate to give a glimpse of what dangers Instagram possesses secretively. Now, let’s come to the point and talk about ways to deal with them.

Educate Your Children about the Dangers

We know it seems complicated, but every parent must educate their children about all these perils of Instagram and social media. Make them understand that they must not follow or accept the following request from a random or unknown account. Make them aware of all the unseen dangers. Awareness is the tool to deal with any kind of hassles.

Stay in Loop

To know what your child is doing on Instagram, you must first be on the platform and keep a close watch. We know you will already have an Instagram. If you and your child follow each other, then you’re doing great. If not, then do it today.

Make Most of Instagram Assistance

Instagram itself is aware of the dangers and offers tons of tools to stay safe as much as possible. Don’t worry; these are some minor settings and filters. So, your teen child will have no worries about implementing these. Here are some of them.

Account (Private or Public)

Instagram allows you to control the account’s identity and footprint. Any Instagram account can be either private or public. No one can access private accounts. Pictures and posts will be locked. Only the followers will be able to see them.

On the other hand, public accounts are accessible to everyone.

Anyone can view the posts, share the pictures, and send text messages. Clearly, a private account is a safer way to have an Instagram presence. Encourage your teens to make their accounts private.

Manage Comment

Unwanted conversations can lead to many hassles. We have seen many teens getting bullied on their posts. Some have even got body-shamed openly in comments. Instagram offers “Comment Controls” features using unwanted commenting that can be prevented. With this feature, your teen can control who should comment on their posts.

Not only this, comments can be filtered out. Instagram has built some powerful filters that will automatically remove offensive words and phrases. You or your teen can create a list of their own bad words or emojis. This way, many sorts of offensive content can be kept out of your kids’ reach.

Story Sharing To Close Friends

Not every Instagram follower is worthy enough to watch your teen’s stories. Encourage your teens to limit the stories access by creating a list of close friends and share the story with them. They can add or delete members in this list at any time.

Manage Control

Instagram lets end-users decide who can text them, add them into a different group, or add them into a chat list. With this kind of control, tons of cyberattacks and hassles can be prevented.

Two-way Authentication

Prevent unauthorized access to your teen’s account by using the two-way authentication facility.

This is an added security feature, powered by a secure code. Only the linked mobile phone will receive that code. So, any other won’t be able to access your teen’s Instagram account.

Also, make sure you use a strong password to make Instagram account more secure.

Ending Notes

Instagram is a wonderful place to be, provided all of its risks and dangers are far away. Teens can easily carry away from the glitz and gleam of Instagram and overlook the hidden dangers of Instagram. But, a parent can’t afford to do that.

If you’re also a parent wondering how to keep your teen kids safe on Instagram then talk to them about the safety concerns and encourage them to keep their account private and utterly secure. When used responsibly, Instagram is superb.

Important Safety Tips while Using Public WiFi

Safety Tips while using Public WiFi

You do not have very go far these days to access free public Wi-Fi. It is available in airports, libraries, cafes, hotels and government buildings. This is helpful but it is important for both adults and kids to make sure they do not trade safety and security for convenience. Just because the public building you are in is reputable, does not mean the Wi-Fi connection is secure.

When using your smart phone or computer in a public hotspot, you need to be careful to ensure the Wi-Fi network is encrypted. Otherwise, it opens you up to the risk of having your online accounts hacked. This could result in cyber thieves stealing your personal information.

Here are two basic safety tips to keep in mind to protect your information.  And then we will explore additional ways to stay safe while online in public.

1.  Check to see if the Public Wi-Fi Network is Secure.

As mentioned, we are not worried about the people who control the Wi-Fi network.  The risk is when others around us are in the business of hacking into the personal accounts using the network.  It could be the person sitting across from you in a coffee shop, or just outside on the street. 

If the public Wi-Fi network does not ask you to enter in a WPA or WPA2 password, the network is not secure. As you are probably thinking, this is most places.  The most common public Wi-Fi networks that require a password are internet providers with home you have an account.

2.  Make sure any website you are on has https at the beginning of URL.  

An example of this is https://youraccount.com or https://yourbank.com.  Secure websites will encrypt your information as you use the site.  Unsecured sites do not have the “s” in them, such as http:// (your information is not encrypted and kept safe if you don’t see the “s”)

Unsecured websites will also show a padlock that is unlocked.  Here is an example of what a secured website looks like.  Notice how with website URL with https also has a closed lock.

secure encrypted website

Clicking the lock will reveal more information about the secure site.  Now you can be sure you are on a secured website.

On a mobile website, it will look like this.

secure encrypted mobile website

If you are using a site that is not secure and locked, you open yourself up to hackers that can access your personal accounts and steal your data.  This could mean your name, address, phone number, address book and photos.

Hackers need see you on a public WiFi to be able to monitor our activity, so one sure fire way to to prevent this (regardless of being on an unsecured network) is to encrypt your data by using a trusted VPN. It can be turned on when you wish, such as when you are in public or traveling.

Here are ore ways to protect your personal information when using public Wi-Fi.

  • It is good idea to have different passwords for each of your online accounts. This way if a cyber thief gets a hold of your email and password on one of your accounts, they will be unable to log into other accounts using the same password.
  • Educate yourself on the various ways cyber attacks happen even when you are in the safety of your own home network, such as Phishing, Vishing and SMishing. Hacking through public WiFi is less common than these other methods used.
  • Do not email important information about yourself for any reason.  This includes credit card details, bank account information and your personal government ID number. You should never do this even if a network is secure, not even from home.
  • When accessing accounts in public, whether it is your own computer or a PC in a library, always log out when finished.
  • Take advantage of 2 step verification methods being offered within your personal accounts.  This will add further security because 2 step verification means you cannot log in until you enter a secret code that is sent to you by text or via the Google Authenticator App.

If you are in doubt about the security using any public Wi-Fi network or website, it is best to restrict your activity online to general use, such as searching Google while you are not logged into your Google account.

Do not log into any personal accounts and if you find it necessary to do so, disconnect from Wi-Fi and use your personal cell data.  Even then, it is always important to ensure the websites on your account pages start with https in the URL.  Most major accounts websites are secure, but if you do not see https something may be wrong.

If you are in doubt about the security using any public Wi-Fi network or website, it’s best to restrict your activity online to general use, such as searching Google while you are not logged into your Google account.

Don’t log into any other personal accounts and if you find it necessary to do so, disconnect from Wi-Fi and use your personal cell data.  Even then, it’s always important to ensure the websites on your account pages start with https in the url.  Most major accounts websites are secure, but if you don’t see https something may be wrong.   

How to Activate Free Parental Controls

Free Parental Control Software Apps Guide

When seeking parental controls to keep your family save online, there is a lot of consider. We’ll start with a checklist of all the devices your child may be using that is connected to the Internet.   Then, we’ll explore free parental control software and app solutions to help you cover all the bases.  Many of these options parental control settings built in.

Lets first define the areas we are dealing with, which are contained in our free parental control guide.

Types of Parental Controls

  1. Installable software for computers and lap tops; PC’s with Windows, Mac desktops and lap tops.
  2. Downloadable Apps for mobile devices; iPhones, Andriods, iPads, Kindle Fire, tablets or any device that has an app store.
  3. Parental controls on game consoles or on Internet based video games, either directly online or via software.
  4. Free factory built-in parental controls that may be limited by still usually available on a particular device or a software program or app on that device.  These include Internet browsers, a social media account or app, YouTube.
  5. Parental controls that are controls by an account with a parental log in and password. (Microsoft, Google or Apple Account).

A typical family is facing these challenges:  One child may have a tablet and an iPhone.  Another child may be working on the family computer and use an Andriod.  You may have a Kindle Fire that all the kids share.  Teens will be playing video games, as well as have a lap top and an iPhone or Android phone. These are just the devices.

Places Kids Need Protection

  1. In their bedroom.
  2. At school.
  3. On the playground.
  4. At a friends house.
  5. On the school bus.

Whether at home on a desktop, or in multiple locations on a smart phone, parents need to individually look at each of device their kids are using and be aware of what they are doing on those devices. And whenever you kids leave your home with a lap top, tablet or mobile phone, the internet goes with them.  This greatly increases the need for parental controls

Kids Internet Activity:  Key Points to Consider.

  • Are they searching the Internet through a browser?
  • Are they searching the Internet through a browser app?
  • Are they interacting on social media on a desktop or via an app?
  • Are they playing videos comes online through an Internet browser or software download?
  • Are they playing video games on a gaming console. Is that gaming console connect to the Internet and interacting with other kids?
  • Are they watching YouTube through their main website or via the new YouTube kids app?

Safe Search Kids has prepared a free parental control guide that covers all of your devices, as well as the various platforms your kids are using to access the internet.

Internet Filtering

Probably the most urgent parental control concern to address is Internet search.  How do you kids search the web?  Which browsers are they using?  Simplify things by guiding them to use only one browser so you only have to set up parental controls for that browser.  A safe search engine like Safe Search Kids is a resource that enhances Google’s filtering but you should still have the basic parental controls enabled for when kids may to go search Google.com.

Our free parental control guide goes through these various options.   Keep in mind that the browser on their lap top will have different settings than the browser app on a mobile device.  It’s also important to note that filtering options on a browser are very limited.

Social Media Monitoring

Without software or a parental control app, parents must monitor a child’s social media manually.  However, there is away to restrict app downloads within the app store.  Our guide reviews these options to that kids can’t download apps you do not approve of.  This option doesn’t not work with all devices.  Beyond that, get to know the apps your kids are using.  What social media programs are they using.  SnapchatTikTok?  Facebook?  Discuss which platforms you will allow according to their age.

Privacy Settings

Look at all your devices, apps and accounts your kids are using and ensure all privacy settings are set accordingly.  While parental controls are all about keeping your kids from accessing harmful material online, let’s not forget about protecting them from those who will want to reach them.  This will also help protect your kids from online predators,  as well as malware, viruses and online scams.

Video Games Consoles

If you decide to use a parental control software program or an app that fully monitors your kids activity online, you’re still somewhat on your own when it comes to gaming.  Software solutions will help if the video game is online, but this is not usually the case for gamers in your family that use consoles such as PlayStation and xBox. This issue includes hand held devices like Nintendo Switch.  Fortunately, our free guide includes parental control instructions for 20 different gaming consoles.  These protections come with each game from the factory.

Free Parental Controls vs Paid Subscription Models

Setting up parental controls on each device and each individual website platform or application on that device can be a daunting task.  It takes research and time.  Our parental control guide reveals these free ways to do it without fully automated parental control software, according to each area of concern.  In some cases, such as with privacy settings, setting things manually do the job.  In other cases, such as internet filtering and app usage, you will only achieve the basic levels of protection provided from pre-existing limits that come with the browser.

For social media monitoring and internet blocking of the darkest places on the web, you may want to consider paid parental control options.  These also including monitoring of suspicious texts, Internet searches and geo tracking for when kids are away from home.  If in doubt, start with free options.  This is the reason we created our free parental control guide. At the very least, every parents should have the available basic protection settings in place.  This is a process you can include your kids in, so they are aware of their boundaries when free parental controls are not enough.

Download our Free Guide to setting up Free Parental Controls on your various devices. We will also show you free software and free parental control app downloads to help you explore more automated solutions.