- Put a Google Alert on your name so you can track what is being said about you/your child 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 not a 100% guarantee, but a great start to tracking your digital footprint.
Set strong passwords:
- 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.
Turn off most geo-tagging:
- Photos taken from most smartphones include a geo-tag- the exact location of where the picture was taken. If you take a picture of your child’s first day at school, for example, and share this photo or post it to your favourite social networking site, anyone can find the exact location of where the picture was taken. To turn off geotagging- go to “camera settings” on your smartphone and turn geo-tagging off.
Install and/or activate remote locate/lock/wipe software and install security software:
- Some smartphones comes 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 happen to download a malicious app or click a bad link.
- Privacy settings are configurable on almost every site and app where you can create a profile. Review them regularly. Sit down with your kids and check their profile settings on Facebook and other social media sites and ensure that they are set to the desired levels of privacy and security.
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.
Be cautious when 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 a network that may not be secure. Tech your kids about the risks of using Wi-Fi in public places.
Choose applications carefully:
- Only purchase/download applications from your smartphone or service’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. Kids often don’t realize that the game “everyone is playing” on their phone comes in an ad-free version and to unlock it costs money.
Be aware of risks of using Bluetooth:
- If you are using Bluetooth-activated devices, there is a risk of others accessing information on them or making unauthorized connections with them. Only enable connections with trusted devices. Always switch your kids’ Bluetooth device to “undiscoverable”.
Save battery power:
- Manage your phone’s power consumption by turning off unnecessary features and turning down adjustable features:
- Dim your screen
- Turn off Bluetooth when it’s not in use
- Turn off Wi-Fi when it’s not in use
Digital house cleaning:
- Set a time in your calendar every 3-6 months for you and your family to check your privacy and permission settings on the social media sites you subscribe to, check/reset passwords and ensure you are using the latest web browser.
List your emergency contacts:
- Ensure you have emergency contacts stored on your phone. Make sure your contact numbers are in your kids’ phones.
Erase your personal information when you upgrade to a new smartphone:
- Use the manufacturer’s approved method to reset your device to factory settings before recycling it. Performing a security wipe is a secure way to delete your personal data, passwords, files, and emails. Remember, manually deleting your information may not be as thorough as re-setting the device.
- Various applications access your phone’s GPS to provide services ranging from finding nearby restaurants to checking you in on social networks. As a user, you can revoke these applications’ access to your phone’s GPS. When you install them, many applications will ask you for permission to use your location.
Back up often:
- Frequently back up the information you store on your smartphone, in case it is lost, stolen or breaks.
What to do if I suspect my child or someone I know is being subjected to cyber-bullying:
- Discuss the options for blocking messages from specific numbers or user accounts with your kids. Third-party applications are available for smartphones and some built-in tools enable users to block calls or text messages from specific numbers.
- Report it to your child’s school and/or the police.
How can I get my kids to share their user names and passwords with me in case of an emergency?
- Ask your older children to write down their usernames/passwords on a piece of paper and date it. They should either give it to the parents or tell them where they can access it in an emergency e.g., a piggy bank.