Internet Safety for the Family

Yesterday, I came across an article with a video from NBC News entitled, Smartphone Photos Pose Security Risk.” This video was uploaded on YouTube by NBCActionNews on November 9, 2012. The other video was from a local TV channel, GMA News & Public Affairs, “Saksi,” aired on August 14, 2013.

This is quite alarming for me as a mom since I’m also quite a shutterbug. Before I go on further, please find and watch these 2 short videos (both local and international news) so we’d understand each other better.

To simply put, it talks about how the photos (using metadata)we upload online could pinpoint our exact location even without mentioning so in words. This because of the enablement of location service found in the settings (also responsible for geotagging, GPS, check-ins) of our smart gadgets (mobile phones, tablets).

I am not posting this to be a fear-monger, but to raise awareness that as parents, we must be careful and sensitive enough when dealing with cyberspace, more importantly, with our kids as subjects.

After watching the video, please find time in reading the comments of the other YouTube users who have watched the video because they also make sense.

I’ve been reading about this topic for quite sometime now and let me share with you some of the measures we can take to protect our children. This list is a combination of my personal and professional security advices:

1. Don’t disclose full names, addresses, and birth dates just anywhere online, unless it is an official/legal business transaction at a certified/trusted website. If engaging in social media, it is suggested only to use your child’s nickname, or any family member’s. This is the reason why I just use my daughter’s nickname or her initial in my blog posts.

2. Remember a word: “TOOTHBRUSH.” Experts say that we should treat passwords as if they are our own toothbrushes. We don’t share our passwords with anyone else, and change it as often as we change our toothbrush. Ideally, we are to change toothbrushes every 3 months, so be it in changing our passwords.

3. Refrain from posting location or real-time schedule statuses in our social media accounts. Example: “I’m leaving the house now to do some grocery shopping,” (especially if no one will be left behind) Or, “Picking up the kids now.” Wall posts such as, “Home Alone now,” or “We’re having a whole family vacation to Singapore tomorrow,” are also discouraged.

Messages like this are red flags, and must be avoided because they give out clues that make us, our family members, and even our home, vulnerable to both cyber and physical harm.

4. Find time to research and update ourselves on Cyber Security. There are resources that are available online that I personally read and follow, and they are as follows:

5. Review you smart gadgets’ location service subscription. Turn off what needs to be turned off, especially if they are not necessary.

What am I trying to drive at? Regardless of varying opinions on this matter, one thing is a sure concern for us parents — the online safety of our children, our family. Now the question is, how can we protect our children from the dangers pose by the people who are misusing the Internet? What are your other best practices?

For any man, there’s no such thing as absolute security in this world. But it is still best to exert effort in minimizing threat and securing the safety of the ones we truly love than be sorry in the end. Our children’s safety is our responsibility.

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