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Expert shares advice for keeping children safe online

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The arrival of the mobile internet on the island in 2018 has revolutionized the way people express discontent and organize themselves in a one-party state known for its dislike of dissent

The arrival of the mobile internet on the island in 2018 has revolutionized the way people express discontent and organize themselves in a one-party state known for its dislike of dissent – Copyright AFP Yasuyoshi CHIBA

Keeping all electronic devices in one room is a measure that can be taken in order to protect your child online. Children have more access to screen time than ever before, in particular, access to the Internet. Hence, Internet safety has become an increasingly worrying problem amongst parents.

Internet expert Allison Troutner from VPNOverview.com tells Digital Journal about the best ways to keep your child safe online.

Consider a family ‘tech agreement’

Troutner  advises: “One way to set ground rules with your child is to create a Family Tech Agreement. A family tech agreement answers as many questions as possible about internet and device use so boundaries are clear to all family members. It’s a good way for the whole family to talk about safe and responsible online behaviours.”

To create a family agreement, discuss topics like:

•           What apps, games, or sites does the family use most?

•           What rules do we want to include in our agreement?

•           How long should we spend on our devices?

•           What information is safe to share (or not)?

•           What do we do if we see something inappropriate?

•           What email address do we use to sign up for accounts?

•           Do we know how to use in-app safety features like blocking and reporting?

•           Who can we talk to if we feel uncomfortable with something online?

•           Who is safe to talk to?

•           What happens when someone breaks the agreement?

•           When might parents be forced to break the agreement for safety?

Troutner advises: “This is a starting point: your family may discuss more topics on Internet safety for kids depending on the ages of your child or teens and what devices you use.”

Report any harmful content that you see

Troutner  recommends: “Flag or report all harmful content or contact you or your child experiences using social media apps using in-app reporting features. For cybercrimes, cyberbullying, or harmful content, use in-app features like Twitter’s safe mode to report it. Most social media companies have their own safety and privacy policies and will investigate and block content or users. Apps geared towards kids, like Facebook Messenger Kids, have clear guidelines and safety features so that users can block content or contacts and have a safer experience in the app.”

Balance safety with independence

Troutner cautions: “Technical controls can be a useful way to protect your children online but they can’t solve all your problems. Children need a certain amount of freedom and privacy to develop healthily. They need their own free space to learn by trial and error what works and what doesn’t. So keep balancing, it’s part of it. Having open and honest conversations with your children can be the best way to balance this safety.”

Keep the computer in a common space

Troutner states: “If possible, keep computers and devices in a common space so you can keep an eye on activity. It prevents children from doing things that might be risky. Also, if harmful or inappropriate content appears through messages, you can address it with your child straight away.”

Password-protect all accounts and devices

According to Troutner: “From phones to computers to apps, put a password on it. That way, no one without the password can access you or your child’s device. Keep track of passwords by using a password manager.”

Update your operating systems regularly

As a protective measure, Troutner advises: “All of your devices from mobile phones or tablets to computers and smartwatches receive important updates in response to security issues on a regular basis. Be sure to install them regularly so you have the most up-to-date security fixes and remain safe online. Our recommendation is to set updates to install automatically so your device is less vulnerable to known attacks. Usually, you can find this feature in Settings, then select Automatic Updates, but it varies between devices.”

Install security or antivirus software programs and a VPN on your computer

Troutner puts forward: “Additionally, cybersecurity or antivirus software programs prevent spyware or viruses that may harm your computer if your child visits a malicious site. Using these programs, parents can also set up regular virus checks and deep system scans to make sure there is no harmful activity happening under your nose.”

He adds: “A VPN hides users’ internet activity from snoops and spoofs your location. This protects your kids by making sure hackers or predators can’t detect their actual location. You can install a VPN on your router so that the location is spoofed on all connected devices.”

Set parental controls

Troutner  states: “It may seem obvious, but parental controls are crucial to your child’s safety online. Parent controls are built-in features included on devices and apps. With these features, parents customise their child’s online experience. What parental controls are available on each device or app varies, but in general, they limit screen time, restrict content, and enhance user privacy.”

Features of parental controls include:

•           Limit screen time.

•           Turn off in-app purchasing.

•           Prevent inappropriate or mature content.

•           Limit website access.

•           Play, message, or send/receive content with approved contacts only.

•           Monitor device location through GPS.

Troutner  concludes, emphasising: “Take time to look at what parental controls are available on your child’s commonly used apps. Then, set them to reflect the type of experience you think is best for your child or teen’s online safety.”

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New Report Finds that 62% of Facebook Users Encounter Scams in the App Every Week [Infographic]

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How often do you encounter scams via email, social media, etc.?

According to new data from cybersecurity firm Lookout, around 62% of Facebook users encounter scams every week, while scam activity ramps up in the holidays – so it’s time to hone your senses to ensure that you don’t fall victim over the coming weeks.

Lookout’s survey, which incorporates responses from over 1,000 online consumers, also found that:

  • 19% of social media users have fallen victim to scams on Facebook
  • The most frequent scam encountered on Facebook is ‘Win a Free Prize/ Free Gift’
  • 46% of social media scam victims report losing $100 or more 

Scammers are always evolving their tactics, and shifting strategies to capitalize on the latest trends, so you need to keep your wits about you. If something seems too good to be true, it very likely is, while you should also note telltale security signs (eCommerce site not using HTTPS) and conduct your own web research if things feel off.

You can read the full report from Lookout here, or take a look at the infographic summary below.

Online scams report

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