Based on recent research by Trend Micro, nearly 30% of all households have three or more smartphones. Add to that the number tablets, and computers, and you have homes that are more connected than ever before. Because of this, social media has become more of a beast than many of us could have imagined. When I was a teen we did not have laptops, or tablets. And we did not have smartphones permanently connected to our hands. While I'm sure our parents had a certain amount of worry about what we were being exposed to, it was nothing like it is now.
And while kids may be tied to their mobile devices a lot on a normal day, in winter it is sure to get worse. Cold weather means many families may choose to stay indoors more. And longer commutes because of bad weather mean kids are keeping themselves busy in the car. Plus hackers take advantage of this time of year to up their efforts in identity theft, and cyber theft knowing that consumers are shopping more.
As a matter of fact, not 2 weeks ago I realized that I could no longer log in to one of my credit card accounts to pay the bill. I called. I was notified that my card had been locked because of suspicious activity. They were right. I had not used the card in a long time. However, someone tried to use it for 2 transactions worth $330! Thankfully they caught it.
Identity theft and fraudulent transactions are just a couple of the issues that families have to encounter when using the Internet from day to day. And kids and teens may not be aware of all of the dangers. This is where parents come in.
Here are 5 Tips for Keeping Your Family Safe Online During the Winter
Talk to your kids about online safety and security
One big part of making sure that your kids are safe online is education. Talk to them about social networks. Which ones are they allowed to use? What should they alert you to right away? What should they stay away from? My kids will often come to me with their phones if they get suspicious text messages, or even if the phone rings and they do not recognize the number.
You should also talk to your kids about the importance of not engaging in online chats with people that they do not know. And they should know to notify you right away if anyone sends them an inappropriate message.
Kids should also know not to click on any ads that pop up in their browsers. And they should never fill out any forms or sign up for anything without talking to you first.
And another big thing that I have talked to teens about before… they need to know that things that they put online can and will come back to haunt them. We live in a world where everyone is quick to record everything, quick to post a photo, and will say just about anything online because they think they are safe hiding behind a keyboard. Of course this is not true. In recent years, more people are losing jobs because of inappropriate tweets and Facebook posts. Kids need to know that even though they are kids, things that they put online can potentially hang around forever and become visible to future schools and employers. Because of this they need to be smart, responsible Internet users. Do not put anything at all online that you would not want your parents to see.
While we trust that educating our kids will do that trick, they are still kids. Let's face it… kids are curious creatures. And they are not always honest with us. It is up to us to trust that they will do the right thing, but just in case, we need to have backups in place to protect them.
Install a Reliable Router
Routers have come a long way. These days routers include parental controls and ways to block inappropriate content from getting into your household. Do your research, read online reviews and choose a router that fits your household. A good router will likely not be the $50 one in Walmart. If you want one that will last for a while, provide a strong signal, and protect your household from hackers and other risky things, you will have to spend more.
Enable Parental Controls
As mentioned above, routers do come with parental controls. However, they are not always foolproof. And if your kids turn off the WiFi on their mobile device and instead use 4G, they are bypassing the router in your home. Because of this, and depending on the age of your kids you may want to install parental controls directly on each device. What you use will depend on whether it is a Windows PC, Apple computer, iOS device, or Android device. But, there is something out there for all.
Trend Micro Maximum Security offers a complete solution that will protect your devices from multiple threats. It offers protection against ransomware, websites that steal personal data, inappropriate content, and more. For only $49.95 you can connect up to 10 devices in your home. Even if your family has a mix of devices, you are covered. The protection works with Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and Android.
Be Sure all Computers in Your Home Have Up-to-date Virus Protection
Viruses are one of the leading causes of computers going nuts. Windows PCs can be particularly vulnerable. In my post, 10 Things to Do When Your Windows PC Behaves Badly I gave you some great tips for cleaning up a computer once you realize that it has slowed down and something is wrong. However, you want to protect it before that happens. Trend Micro Maximum Security is an awesome solution that protects against everything mentioned above and it also protects against viruses. Keep in mind that slowness is not the only issue that viruses or malware cause. A truly bad virus can wipe out data, steal your sensitive information, or make your computer truly unusable. Head over to the Trend Micro site to read more and learn how to protect yourself.
Schedule Offline Time for Family Fun
The less time your family spends online, the less likely they are to encounter inappropriate content, viruses and malware. In this digital world, some may spend too much time staring at screens. This can cause eye problems, neck problems, and a disconnect from your family. To combat this some families band mobile devices at the dinner table. Others schedule time once a week to play family games, or have an outing. Whatever you decide to do, do it as a family and embrace being together. You can also use this time to chat with your children and ask questions about what they have been encountering online.
TREND MICRO IS GIVING ONE READER A $200 AMAZON GIFT CARD
Trend Micro hopes that you will look to their Internet Safety for Kids and Families site to get helpful info on how to protect your family from computer threats. In order to help you celebrate staying safe this season they is giving one reader a $200 Amazon gift card. Use it towards holiday shopping, to get a new device, or whatever you need! Enter to win below.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Trend Micro. All opinions are my own.