I didn’t practice what I had preached.
As a result, one of my daughter’s internet accounts was recently compromised. You see, I got lazy. I allowed her to download an app that I had not thoroughly researched. She was one of the last in her group of friends to download the app. Since I hadn’t heard anything negative about the app from any of her friends’ parents, I caved. I let her download it without doing my homework. Then, just a few weeks after downloading the app, she received a message from a source she didn’t know. The message contained an inappropriate photo.
Shame on me. I know better. But my momentary lapse in judgment has offered me a chance to review a few internet safety rules. Some of these rules are common sense. Some are from sites such as http://www.stopthinkconnect.org. Regardless of where they came from, they all bear repeating:
1. Parents: Always review apps prior to allowing your kids to download them. While I haven’t found a single go-to site that reviews and answers questions about multiple apps, there are plenty of unique sites and blogs about individual apps. (By the way, parents, if you have heard of a single go-to site for popular apps, please share it with me!)
2. If the app has an age restriction, just stick to it. Like many others, I cheated the system by putting in a fake date because my daughter was 4 months shy of being the right age for the app. The age restriction is on there for a reason.
3. Investigate the privacy settings for any app. Find out how to manage your information so as to keep as much info private as possible.
4. Never open mail from a source you don’t recognize. Whether it’s an email, a text, a voicemail, a Facebook message or whatever, if you don’t recognize the source, don’t respond. In fact, unless it’s a voicemail, don’t even open it.
5. Only give out your cell number to people you know and trust.
6. Never share anyone else’s mobile number without their permission.
7. Learn how to disable the location services on your phone. This feature potentially allows others the ability to pinpoint your location. This can be especially risky for younger children.
8. If a game or an app requests a picture of you, substitute a pencil drawing or cartoon image instead of a real photo.
9. Some internet games utilize a voice chat feature, requiring voice commands from the players. If you must use this, disguise your voice (which may ultimately make the game that much more fun). When possible, opt to play without the voice chat.
10. Don’t text, email, or otherwise put anything in writing that you wouldn’t say to someone face-to-face.
11. Be smart about Hotspot use. Hotspots offer a shared internet connection that is not password protected. Limit the type of sites you visit at Hotspots (i.e. avoid doing banking at a Hotspot).
12. Sites that contain an ‘s’ in their address (eg https://) contain an extra level of security. When banking or shopping online, ensure the ‘s’ is in the address.