Kids are drawn to the Internet like moths to a flame. Right now, few online attractions burn as brightly as Facebook and Twitter. It’s not uncommon for kids as young as 8 and 9 to have their own Facebook pages, and any kid with a smartphone or tablet (let alone access to a computer) can tweet up a storm.
Social media sites like these are great for building friendships, sharing photos, and keeping in touch, but there’s a risk factor involved as well. Just as in school or on the playground, a few bad apples can “spoil the barrel” for everyone.
Indeed, kids on social networks often face harassment, threats, bullying, and unwelcome communication from strangers. Imagine a scenario, for example, in which a schoolmate uses Facebook or Twitter to spread a rumor about your child. This isn’t just a whisper that gets passed from ear to ear. It’s a shout that’s instantly seen and heard by all.
Cyberbullying is on the rise. According to a January 2012 Ipsos poll, a whopping 60 percent of children say they’ve experienced some form of cyberbullying. And 1 in 3 teens have encountered cyber-threats. If those stats seem surprising, consider that kids are exposed to technology at earlier and earlier ages, and spend more and more time connected to the Internet thanks to smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
The most alarming statistic of all: 90 percent of the victims of cyberbullying don’t inform a parent (or other trusted adult) of the abuse. And as evidenced by some heartbreaking recent headlines, cyberbullying can lead to depression or even suicide. It’s serious stuff.
So what’s a concerned parent to do? Communicate. Get involved. Set limits. You know — everyday parenting stuff, but with a focus on your kids’ online lives. Here are five ways you can help protect your children from the very real threats associated with cyberbullying.
You wouldn’t turn your kids loose on the streets of a big city without careful supervision. That’s because, for all its wonders, a sprawling metropolis also has its dangers, too — unsavory characters, unsuitable places.
Same goes for the Internet. But thanks to computers, tablets, and smartphones, your kids are almost constantly connected to this virtual metropolis — and you can’t keep an eye on their every move. Intentionally or not, they can be exposed to inappropriate websites, objectionable videos, potentially creepy chat contacts, and even identity theft.
Indeed, consider how big a role the Internet plays in kids’ daily lives. They might consume a steady stream of YouTube videos in the hours after school, text endlessly with friends on their phones, search the Web for song lyrics, and tweet more than a nest of baby birds.
You probably think your kids are more tech-savvy than you are. And let’s be honest, they might just be. But just because they’re good at text messaging, Facebook, and Angry Birds doesn’t mean they know everything they need to know. In fact, when it comes to mobile security, most kids don’t have a clue.
For example, do they know how to password-protect their smartphones so mischievous friends don’t mess with them? Do they know that hackers are increasingly attacking mobile devices, and what to do about it? Can they spot a fraudulent email or Web link? And have they backed up their data in case their school laptop gets lost or stolen?
Time to step in, parents. It’s up to you to help keep your kids safe from the growing number of mobile threats that can strike laptops, tablets, smartphones — and your kids themselves. Follow these four key steps to help ensure that your kids’ devices and data don’t fall into the wrong hands.
Imagine how you’d feel if you lost your wallet. Scary thought, right? Now imagine if you lost your smartphone or tablet. That’s not only an expensive piece of hardware gone missing, but also a mountain of personal data: contacts (both business and personal), appointment calendars, photos, memos, and most likely your Facebook and Twitter feeds.
Of course, that data can be at risk even if you keep your device tucked safely in a pocket or purse. It’s all about how you manage it. Thankfully, it’s not hard to lock down, protect, and even back up your most prized information. Here’s everything you need to know.
iPhones, iPods, and iPads have a reputation for being pretty secure. What makes them so impervious to viruses, spyware, and the like? Part of the credit goes to Apple, which vets each and every iOS app that’s submitted to the App Store and blocks any that violate its stringent security policies. Thus there’s no chance you’ll accidentally install Angry Birds and end up exposing your private data to hackers.
Even so, there’s no such thing as a 100 percent safe mobile device. Your iOS tablet or smartphone may be pretty secure on the app front, but there are other threats you should be aware of. Here’s how to thwart the five of the most pressing security threats.
1. Protect kids from inappropriate Internet content
Taking a trip? Don’t forget to pack your tablet, which is great for passing time on planes, trains, and everything in between. Read a book, play a game, watch a movie, or just update your Facebook status.
But tablets can do more than just entertain. Thanks to our handpicked collection of travel-savvy apps (all of which are available for Android and iOS, unless otherwise noted), your tablet is an unbeatable road companion, able to manage your trip details, track your flights, guide you around foreign cities, and even pull docent duty at top museums.
Before you leave home, just make sure you’ve installed security software that’s tailored especially for tablets. For example, if your device gets stolen, you can remotely lock out your personal info or just erase it altogether. There’s even a tracking option that lets you see your tablet’s location on a map. Better still, by choosing software that backs up your data, all is not lost — even if your tablet is.