Grace sprung for her own tablet recently.
She justified the purchase – and also a llama keychain made from real llama fur and a tiny Peruvian blanket – as good investments, the kind of thing she could pass down to her kids someday. (I love this idea.)
One thing I need to pass down to my own kids: A plan for cyber security, not just for the content she can access, but to protect her accounts online.
That’s where Cassie comes in. She writes for a website called Secure Thoughts. No, this isn’t a site that safeguards my dreams of pizza buffets with Katlyn Carlson. It’s Internet security for everyday people. You know, like you and me.
Cassie’s here today to talk about security and the gifts you might be considering (or have already bought – holy hell, Christmas is Sunday, isn’t it?).
Please give Cassie a warm CD welcome. And by the way, I miss this place. This space. I can’t wait to get back with some Go Ask Daddy action, some #GirlsRock interviews, random smartphone photos, and maybe even a plain oldblog post!
This Christmas, You Are the Best Parental Control
Are you excited (and a little nervous) about Christmas this year? I know I am. Let’s pretend for a moment that I know exactly what I’m getting my little ones for Christmas. All of the hot new toys blogs and magazines are telling me to buy and my kids are asking for are very tech-oriented (and expensive, but I’m not thinking about that).
I promise you, they aren’t the parental controls of yesterday that kids could work around in 10 minutes. The parental controls you can use today require passwords, can connect right to your phone, and notify you if something’s amiss. There is an option for you if you are planning on getting your child a phone or tablet. Chances are they won’t even know the controls are on there.
Some brief things you should know:
• If your kids are small and don’t need to use the Internet for much research, try simply getting them a kid-friendly browser.
• Older kids should probably be using a regular browser, but that doesn’t stop you from using useful browser plugins or simply adjusting the browser settings.
• If you want something with all the bells and whistles, NetNanny and Qustodio probably have any feature you could ask for, for a price.
• You might just want to investigate what your operating system has to offer in terms of parental controls. A quick search led me to uncover tools to protect my kids without downloading anything.
Another thing is that many of the toys you might get your kids just don’t have parental controls, only parental settings or options at best. As a parent, it’s up to you to establish boundaries and rules regarding the toys you give them. Just because you’re playing it safe doesn’t mean you can’t have fun playing! I know I feel easier knowing my children know their limits with toys that could be misused.
Don’t Take Unnecessary Risks
Don’t give your kids toys you don’t think they can handle. That drone can become extremely dangerous extremely quickly, especially when you’re not looking for just a few seconds. A few random buttons on the wrong toy can send a lot of information. A robot dog could just confuse and frighten some very young kids.
Video games are always a popular option for parents to get children for Christmas, but if you don’t play yourself, you should know what your children are in for. If your kids are young, I’d just recommend turning off all online features because some user-created content doesn’t always stay appropriate. You don’t want adult gamers unintentionally (or intentionally) molding your children the wrong way. Older kids you’ll still want to look out for while they game.
Other Security Tips
Here are some of the other tools and tips you might want for your tech for the holidays:
• If you don’t have security software for your home, please get it now. Without it, I’m surprised you’re able to read this with all the malware roaming about.
• If you’re concerned about people and hackers picking up on your children’s location, get a Virtual Private Network for your computers. It might not be compatible with the toys, but it will be compatible with the devices often used to control your toys, such as your smartphone and computer.
• Whatever you do, don’t give your kids financial information or a credit card. You might wind up with a $5,000 app bill.
What’s on your mind for the holidays? Going to get your kids anything new and tech-oriented, or are you thinking of something a little more traditional?
About the Author: Cassie is a technology and cybersecurity writer for Secure Thoughts, a cybersecurity information website. She takes her own children’s cyber security into consideration and hopes that yours will both have fun and be safe this holiday season.
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