Internet Safety Resources For Parents And Kids

ttt-logoTalking with your child about Internet safety can seem overwhelming, but there are some excellent resources available to help.

Remember, protecting your kids online starts with protecting your computer from viruses and malware. Teach your kids to use strong, unique passwords, and to avoid oversharing photos and personal information. Monitor the sites your kids visit and the apps and devices they use. Create family rules concerning online time. Encourage your kids to tell you if they encounter anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, such as cyberbullying or inappropriate content.

Here are some of the tools I use when teaching families and schools about online safety.

Basic Computer Security Tips

Parental Controls

Internet Safety For Kids

Internet Safety For Teens

Cyberbullying

Social Media Safety

Cell Phone Safety

More Internet Safety Information For Parents

 

A Parent’s Guide To Protecting Your Kids Online

kidsIt’s hard to protect kids online, because parents and educators often have a hard time finding resources that can help them understand the latest risks and recommendations. I’ve gathered a variety of information in one place so you can learn about antivirus, parental controls, and protecting your kids while using mobile devices and video games.

Kids’ computers are among the most vulnerable to security threats. That’s not to say your kids are doing anything wrong. On the contrary, they’re the victims. Not only do virus-writers like to booby-trap kids with malicious web sites, they also like to infiltrate legitimate ones. Kids are also at much at risk of identity theft as any Internet user. More so, because cyberbullying has become such a deadly and devastating menace.

These are resources every parent needs to know about how computer viruses and Internet threats work. If you have questions, please feel free to comment. You can also subscribe to Tech Tips by email and follow on Facebook. You can also follow @trionaguidry on Twitter.

Antivirus And Security

Mobile Devices

Video Games

Cyberbullying And Harassment

 

Your Webcam Can Be Used Against You

webcamSmile! Your private life might be streaming live on the Internet!

Did you know hackers use viruses to commandeer the webcam on your computer, tablet, or smart phone? Makes you think about all the places you take these devices, and what they could be recording. In this month’s The Northwest Herald I talk about the dangers of unsecured webcams and microphones:

It’s not just your devices, but those of the people around you as well. Chances are, you’ve had a phone or tablet nearby during a private conversation with a lawyer, a doctor, a friend. What if someone else was watching and listening through that device?

Cameras can be hijacked in a number of ways. Cybercriminals can commandeer them with viruses, then extort you by demanding money for the deletion of potentially embarrassing photos and videos. Sometimes they have the nerve to imitate law enforcement, claiming that you have illegal content on your computer and will go to jail if you don’t pay their fee.

I’m fond of taping over the webcam unless you need to use it regularly – in which case a purse or pocket provides a lovely view of lint, should someone try to sneak a peek. That doesn’t help with microphones, of course, which is why it makes sense to store your mobile devices where they’re less likely to overhear private conversations.

I also strongly recommend to my fellow parents – get the computers and camera-equipped game consoles out of your kids’ bedrooms, NOW. There are some scary new statistics about the increase in predatory sexploitation which will make you want to take a hammer to every camera in the house.

Here are some articles about webcam security you might find interesting:

What are your concerns about webcam and microphone security? Share in the comments!

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

2011 Parental Control Software Review

If you’re worried about your kids’ Internet safety, you’re not alone. The rapid pace of tech innovation often leaves parents feeling lost, but the latest parental control software gives you the ability to keep up with the trends.

One of my current favorites is a freebie from an old friend. Symantec’s Norton Online Family lets you protect all the computers in your house from one convenient web-based control panel. What’s nice about Norton Online Family is that it works with both PC and Mac. First, set up your initial account on the Online Family web site, then add accounts for each child based on age. You’ll receive emails notifying you of any blocked sites or unwanted activity, and as the parental administrator you can permit or deny sites as you prefer. The default settings work great for blocking popups and ads on the sites your kids visit. And did I mention, it’s free?

There are some other freebies available to you if you have Windows 7 or Mac OS X Snow Leopard or Lion. The latest versions of these systems include improved parental control features.

I’m often asked if kids can get past parental controls. Of course they can, if they try hard enough. Using your computer’s built-in features offers resistance to “accidental” attempts to disarm the safeties, but I think a better deterrent is good old-fashioned communication. Even using the term “parental control software” can put your teen into a combative stance. Instead, call it what it is: part of your Internet safety arsenal. There are good reasons to protect kids’ computers that have nothing to do with parental trust. Stuff you don’t want will appear on even the most innocuous sites, or the sites themselves can be redirected somewhere unsavory. With parental control software you have an added level of protection on top of your antivirus software.

2010 Parental Control Software Review

Each year I give parents a roundup of the best parental control software on the market.

Parental control software offers automatic blocking of inappropriate sites as well as content and image filtering. You can schedule when the Internet is available to your kids, log instant messages, keep tabs on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, and monitor mobile communications. New to parental control software is the ability to protect from cyberbullying.

I continue to like SafeEyes, available for Windows and Mac. NetNanny and CyberPatrol have also been upgraded with new features. While Windows and Mac offer built-in parental controls, as do many security suites, they are no substitute for a dedicated program.

Hardware parental controls are physical devices that sit between your home network and the Internet. At this point there are none I recommend because they slow down your network and can easily be removed by wily kids. However, you can configure some home routers to perform certain parental control functions like content filtering.

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Free Classes On Social Networking And Internet Safety

Next week I’m offering free previews of my Social Networking and Internet Safety For Kids classes with the Cary Park District. The free preview of Social Networking will be held Thursday, February 4th, 2010 from 9:00am-9:30am at the Park District Community Center, 255 Briargate Rd. in Cary, Illinois. The free preview of Internet Safety For Kids will be held Saturday, February 6th, 2010 from 9:00am-9:30am. Registration is not required for these free previews. For more information or to register for the full classes, contact the Cary Park District at (847) 639-6100 or www.carypark.com.

Click here to see the other computer classes I have available. If you are interested in a class but don’t see it here, contact me. With enough interest I can set up additional sessions of any of my classes. I can also work with you one-on-one.

Social Networking
Sponsored by the Cary Park District
Next session TBA

Have you been asked to get LinkedIn? Can you make business contacts through Facebook or MySpace? Should you Twitter your business? Learn the answers to these questions and more. Computers are not required, but you may bring a laptop for hands-on instruction.

Internet Safety For Kids And Tweens (ages 5 years-adult)
Sponsored by the Cary Park District
Monday, February 15, 2010, 9:30am-10:30am

Learn how kids can use the Internet safely by covering age-appropriate skills and talking about online stranger danger. Review basic skills, talk about ways to use technology with less risk and take a quiz to test your knowledge. Parents are welcome to enroll in this program with their kids. Computers are not required, but you may bring a laptop for hands-on instruction.

2009 Parental Control Software Review

Parental control software allows you to keep tabs on what your children are doing online. Some kids view it as invasive, but I see it as no different than a usage policy at a corporation. As long as you are honest with your kids about the fact that they will be monitored, parental controls serve a useful purpose. They allow automatic blocking of known inappropriate sites as well as content and image filtering. They permit you to schedule when the Internet is available (to curb those late-night surfing sessions) and to log instant messages. Some now include monitoring of social networks like MySpace and FaceBook. Such programs typically have trial versions so you can try them before you buy.

  • NetNanny has a new Macintosh version available. Both the Windows and Mac versions provide content filtering, instant message logging, usage reports, remote management and social network monitoring.
  • SafeEyes has also been revamped since last year. It’s available for Windows and Mac and also has a version for mobile devices like iPhones. Its features are similar to NetNanny’s.
  • CyberPatrol hasn’t changed much over the last year. It’s only available for Windows and unlike NetNanny and SafeEyes, doesn’t provide monitoring of social networking sites.
  • Intego ContentBarrier is a Mac-only program that, like CyberPatrol, is fairly basic and doesn’t monitor social networking sites.

Last year I noted that my least favorite antivirus program Norton includes some parental control features. Many antivirus programs are now doing the same, but I don’t consider that a substitute for bona fide parental controls.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Tech Tips (free!) for the latest computer news, plus bonus tips and product reviews. In September we’ll talk about Computer Housekeeping.

Internet Safety For Kids

Each year I give you pointers on how to protect your kids from cyberbullies and other Internet dangers. We talked about “acceptable use” policies in 2007 and reviewed basic do’s and don’ts in 2008. This year I’d like to introduce you to the Internet Safety Pledge, which I use in my Internet classes for kids.

You can find the Internet Safety Pledge on NetSmartz.org. What I like about the Safety Pledge is that it gives you age-appropriate bullet points you can use as a basis for discussion. No documentation can substitute for sitting down and talking with your kids about online safety, or anything else for that matter. I recommend you review the Safety Pledge with your children and reinforce that they should come to you with concerns or questions.

Of course, maintaining a secure computer is a must with kids in the house. You’ll find my four steps to computer security and my security software recommendations here on my blog.

I’ll be teaching more classes on Internet Safety For Kids this fall, so if you missed my summer sessions be sure to check my web site for registration details. I’m also happy to sit down with you and your kids during any regular tech support visit.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Tech Tips (free!) for the latest computer news, plus bonus tips and product reviews. In September I’ll show you how to use the Internet to find employment in Web 2.0 For Job Searches.

Internet Safety For Kids Class This Monday, August 17th, 2009

With the school year about to start, now is a great time to educate your kids and yourself about Internet safety. I’m teaching two sessions this Monday, August 17th, one from 9:30am-10:30am and the other from 11am-1pm. For more information on this and my other computer classes please visit my web site or contact the Cary Park District at (847) 639-6100.

Summer Computer Classes

Guidry Consulting, Inc. is offering summer computer classes through the Cary Park District. Don’t miss How To Protect Yourself From Cybercrime on July 20, and two classes on Internet Safety For Kids and Internet Safety For Tweens and Teens on August 17. For more information, please visit the Guidry Consulting web site at http://www.guidryconsulting.com/news.html.