Technology And The Internet: Keeping Your Children Safe And Informed

The birth of computers for domestic use, gradually seeped into everyone’s homes, schools and libraries across America as the advantages of having such an advanced piece of technology seemed to outweigh any known risks. With just a few decades of technology under our belts, the dangers have become more prominent in the media, and although we may consider ourselves as parents to be quite savvy in avoiding the digital world’s pitfalls, the kids may not possess the sense of awareness you have. This could make them vulnerable to digital world dangers. Which is why the pointers below highlight some of the risks and benefits to help keep them safe and informed in the virtual world.

Educate About Risks

You could begin by sitting them down to have a chat, maybe using your own PC/laptop/phone as an example to make the experience more interactive and walk through some of the dangers and solutions on the internet. However, use a bit of discretion to work out what’s age appropriate.

 

  • Spam email – Encourage kids not to give out their email at every opportunity and to limit it to close family and friends only, otherwise they may receive an influx of spam. Explain the difference between genuine and spam emails. For instance, opening and toying with spam email could allow viruses on to their computer or phone, causing it to stop functioning.
  • Cyberbullying – Showing them how to block/ban other people who are harassing or insulting them online is essential. Use the prevent cyberbullying extract from the government website for more information on this subject.
  • Social Media – Explain why it’s best to limit your personal info and pictures online and not to entertain friend requests or private messages from people they do not know.
  • Private Information – Encourage your children to keep their passwords in a safe place, and only share with you if they want to. Explain this will stop people gaining access to/controlling their accounts.

Educate About Benefits

Alongside a whole host of danger technology brings, there is also a long list of benefits that kids could use to their advantage.

 

  • Safety – Encourage your kids to look after their technology as one day they might need it to look after them. Phones, for example, could be a handy tool if they’re in danger, allowing them to call you or emergency services. Which is why every effort should be made to look after their technology and treat it with respect. Such as buying a protective phone case, phone stands to prevent dropping it when they’re trying to watch a Youtube video, screen protectors, laptop cases and so forth. To survey the top 10 stands for cell phones, the best phone cases, and screen protectors, there’s an abundance of protective equipment you can order online.
  • Knowledge and skills – A distinct point of children having technology is the world of knowledge it opens up to your children. Also using technology is advantageous in helping them to build computer skills, which are no longer desirable but essential in most jobs today.
  • Connecting – Using the internet can be a good way for kids to keep connected with friends and family, it can also be a way of you connecting with your children, such as playing co-op games together or watching funny Youtube videos.

 

As a parent, your worries are no longer limited to looking after your children in the real world but are extended to looking after them in the digital world too. By using the tips above to educate them on the risks, you can help them avoid technology/internet pitfalls and be cautious of danger..

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

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Teens More Likely to Learn Distracted Driving Behavior From Their Parents

As parents we know that our kids are always watching. They notice our behaviors and actions when we least expect it and often reflect back what we do in their own actions.

In a recent study of more than 1,500 teens conducted by Texas A&M University and Aceable Drivers Ed, researchers found that teenagers are more likely to witness their parents engaging in distracted driving behavior than their peers. It’s often assumed that the generation who grew up with cell phones from a young age are the worst offenders when when it comes to poor driving habits when, in reality, they report their friends and peers engaging in fewer instances of distracted driving than their parents.

Modeling good behavior for our kids starts at home. This is why it’s so important for parents to set a great example around safe driving habits. Driving is a huge responsibility and we want our kids to be as safe as possible on the road. Here are a few easy tips to get started so you can set the right example, and become a safer driver yourself:

  • Put your phone in the glovebox while driving
  • Pull over to a complete stop if you need to make a call or eat
  • Get completely ready at home so you’re not multitasking in the car
  • Keep pets in a carrier or secured in the back seat while driving
  • Find some apps that help pause notifications on your phone while driving
  • Always put on your seatbelt and insist others do the same

Be sure to check out the article with more in-depth information and tips from the distracted driving study.

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Keeping Your Teenager Safe

If you tell your teenager you want them to be safe, they will immediately feel like you’ve shoved a bag over their head, added a strait jacket and locked them in a cell. In their minds, ‘safe’ equals the introduction of curfews, boundaries and cotton wool to wrap them up in. Firstly, they wouldn’t be wrong to think that, given that a parent keeps their child safe with boundaries and curfews, the trick is to do it so that they, a) don’t know it, and b) actually enjoy it! Safety is a big deal in the world that we currently live in. Everything is moving toward automation and robots, and if you’re old enough to have seen and appreciate The Terminator movies, then you’ll know why you want to keep your kids as safe as possible.

In a digital world full of GDPR scandals and naked celebrity photos being leaked, it can be difficult to hand over that much-wanted smartphone that your teenager has been begging you for. The overbearing helicopter parent within you will want to perform random spot checks on said phone, but not to make your teenager feel untrusted and closed in, but to protect them from the dangers of a cell phone personal data leak, which can and does happen by a simple click of the wrong link. There is a time that comes up really fast, and that’s letting your child go a little bit. Not too much, you don’t want them to go too far and forget that they are still under your rules and your protection. But far enough that they can begin to make their own mistakes and get to know the world around them. Keeping them safe is still going to be a priority for you, no matter what, and there are no absolutely right or wrong answers to doing this. However, if you are going to go with the strait jacket method, it may be worth getting some guidance or parenting classes…or something. So, how can you keep your teenager safe without them hating you for it?

Communicate. It may be like getting a limpet off a rock to get your teenager out of their bedroom and into the dining room for dinner, but it’s so important. You need a neutral plane to be able to discuss their world and how things are going, and over their favorite meal is a good place. Ideally, you would have been openly discussing teenage rules from a young enough age that they know what to expect when the time creeps around. Communication is so important for happy and well-adjusted teenagers, so don’t be afraid to discuss the dangers of social media or the world around them. Get their input about things that they could be worrying about and learn to talk to them on their level, like a mature adult – this is what they are aiming to be.

Know Everyone. You want to be that parent who knows their friends, has met their friends’ parents and are comfortably aware of where they should be and when. This way, when an emergency happens, you know exactly where to go. You should impart how important it is to be able to keep tabs as you need to. The likelihood is that you won’t need to – and that’s exactly how it should be.

Keep Them Busy. Bored teenagers are not a good combination. A second job, extra classes and a full social calendar can keep your teen busy, but make sure it’s the good kind of busy – not the kind with such extra pressure that they feel like they cannot cope. If your teenager is still in school, set some rules together about curfews on school nights and make sure that they’re home to get a solid night of sleep before school the next day. Giving them enough rope to have their freedom is smart, but don’t hang them with it. They need to know you’re taking a step back to give them some room.

The good thing about this is that you can start letting them know from the beginning of high school what you expect, and they can do the same. You want to protect them without suffocation, and it can be achieved when everyone comes together to compromise and be happy together. It’s important to know you have a strong and trusting relationship. Put their safety first and you can make sure that this is the case.

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

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Explaining Technology Security to Parents

IMG_4938-editAs a parent in this Internet of Things (IoT) age we have to find a balance with allowing technology in our homes and protecting our kids from the dangers of being connected online 24/7. A new series of blog posts I will be writing about here at St. Louis Dad will be all about security and how it relates to technology and parenting.

With everything being connected to the Internet it is important to understand the potential risks involved with being connected 24/7 with the devices you and your children use everyday.

Each post will highlight a particular technology and will hopefully be explained in plain English for any parent to be able to understand how that technology works and why it is important to know about it. I will be providing tips on how you can keep your devices secure and functioning to their full potential. This will not be a fear based series of posts, but more along the lines of an informative and example based type of post. While it may seem scary, fear not as the topics are important and are more for education rather than trying to get you to throw out your gadgets.

There will be some new terminology that you may not be aware of. Don’t get yourself frustrated over complicated terminology. Some of those words will be defined in each post as I continue on with this series. At the end of each post will be a list of words that will be clearly defined.

The first topic that I will be discussing in my next post in this series will be about PII and what can be considered PII. What is important for many parents to know is that their child’s personal identifiable information is worth more to a hacker or scammer than an adults. This is because the info is new and the kids are young. So before they even know what a credit card is they could already be signed up for 15 cards by a hacker. A 9 year old isn’t going to know to check their credit report for fraudulent activity. So the hacker gets away with it for much longer than say if it were yours or my info.

So I will be getting into topics such as this and will expand in them as much as possible. I think the information could be helpful and if you have any particular topics or questions you would like me to field then just drop a comment below.

Finally, before I get to your parental homework (it’s easy, I swear)… Let me mention one more thing that I feel involves not only your children’s security but also your own. Congress is working towards modifying Rule 41 to allow local law enforcement to “hack” into your computer legally. This will have a huge negative impact on many technology applications and devices we all love and use everyday. We need to be sure to stand together and make sure congress knows that we will not stand for this. We need to stop the modification of Rule 41 and EFF.org has a few ideas on how you can help.

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has pointed out some of the biggest issues with modifying Rule 41. Here are the biggest takeaways.

  • Government agents hacking into computers more frequently is a recipe for disaster. Law enforcement will increase their exploitation of security vulnerabilities in common software products, meaning vulnerabilities that could affect millions will be left open instead of patched.
  • Law enforcement will forum shop, finding government-friendly magistrate judges to sign off on warrants with a loose connection to the judicial district.
  • Law enforcement will pressure judges to sign off on remote searches of thousands of computers with a single warrant—a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment and a pattern we’re already seeing.

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Parent’s Homework

Definition of PII
PII (Personally Identifiable Information) – or Sensitive Personal Information (SPI), as used in US privacy law and information security, is information that can be used on its own or with other information to identify, contact, or locate a single person, or to identify an individual in context. PII can be sensitive or non-sensitive. Non-sensitive PII is information that can be transmitted in an unencrypted form without resulting in harm to the individual. Non-sensitive PII can be easily gathered from public records, phone books, corporate directories and websites.

Sensitive PII is information which, when disclosed, could result in harm to the person whose privacy has been breached. Sensitive PII should therefore be encrypted in transit and when data is at rest. Such information includes biometric information, medical information, personally identifiable financial information (PIFI) and unique identifiers such as passport or Social Security numbers.

Take a look around your computer, if you search your social in your computers local search box will you find it? How about health records or any other PII type of data? Do a few local searches so you can feel comfortable looking up this information on your computer. When I say search, do not search Google or Bing. Use your local search box. Don’t know where to find it? Just hold tight and I will cover all things PII in my next post.

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Definition of Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things is a proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data. “If one thing can prevent the Internet of things from transforming the way we live and work, it will be a breakdown in security”.

Think of anything that has access to the Internet or cloud for it to function. Your SmartTV, Amazon Echo, a Nest thermostat. Devices like that are all considered Internt of Things. These devices are our future and IoT will only be included more and more. A consumers we need to demand security on these devices. Real security and not a plain text password.

Extra Credit: Know Your Apps
Your child may have hundreds of apps on their phone. You may not have heard of any of them, but you should. There are some apps that have hidden features that could potentially enable your child to hide data from you. Take some time to go through your child’s device and write down all of the apps that have been installed or better yet purchased. Some apps that may have been installed may not longer be on the device, but they are still tied to an account, so knowing what has been installed along with what is installed will be super helpful as I continue this series.

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