How to Keep Your Kids Safe from Devices (and Vice Versa)

How to Keep Your Kids Safe from Devices (and Vice Versa)

It is no secret that kids these days have more access to technology than any generation before them. While this access can truly help to enrich their lives if leveraged properly, it can also have serious ramifications if it isn’t checked.

Many apps that are available on the various app stores out there are simply inappropriate for children to interact with,and many can leave them vulnerable to criminal acts.

Therefore, as they use their mobile devices,it is important that the adults in their life step in and create some common-sense boundaries. Here, we’ll go over some problematic apps that should probably be avoided, and some means of ensuring that these common-sense boundaries are enforced.

Apps to Watch Out For

There are a variety of applications that can prove problematic if children utilize them, for numerous reasons. Obviously, there are the dangers of anonymous, randomized chat and video applications, like Omegle, and their capability to connect children with predatory adults. Even Omegle has acknowledged this, their homepage itself cautioning users to “be careful” for exactly this reason.

Another app, Yubo (formerly known as Yellow),is supposed to be a friend-making application, using a Tinder-like swipe interface to connect teens. However, not only can this app be used as a means to misrepresent oneself, the Tinder-like interface also allows it to be used like Tinder. Worse, also like Tinder, this application bases its results on the user’s location, allowing for relatively simple real-life meetings.

Sarahah was originally intended to be an app that could be used to provide anonymous feedback and encouragement in the workplace. However, it was quickly adopted as a means for cyber bullying, and proved to be so effective that it was pulled from app stores – but not necessarily deleted from devices.

There are other examples as well – for instance, the application Vora was meant to assist those who were practicing intermittent fasting to track their time but was quickly adopted by teens who have anorexia and other eating disorders. Other apps are also commonly used by the “pro-ana” audience, including MyFitnessPal and Carrot Fit (which, if comparing a “carrot” to the “stick” approach, ironically uses more of a “stick”approach to dieting).

Even popular sites like Reddit can easily become an issue when kids are involved. There are plenty of subreddits dedicated to materials that are by no means appropriate for children, including pornography. While the app does state that users must be 18 years of age or older, there is no built-in means of preventing someone younger from confirming that.

In addition to these issues, many apps are little more than just delivery systems for malware and other problems.

What You Can Do

If you have a child or teen in your life that you are responsible for, there are a few different approaches you can take to protect them from this access.

Talk to Them

Yeah, it’s a cliché, but sometimes the most effective way to get through to a kid is to have a frank and honest discussion with them. Discussing some best practices about computer safety and making sure they know that many apps can’t be trusted might just be enough to get them to pay closer attention to what they are doing.

Set Controls

While it is important to trust, it is also important to eliminate temptation as much as possible. As a result, Google has incorporated a few safeguards that parents and guardians have the option to choose from.

The Google Play Store contains media of all kinds, from applications, books, and video content. On a child’s device, a guardian can set limits on Play Store app downloads. By accessing the Play Store, and from there, the hamburger menu (the three horizontal lines at the top left), and then Settings. Under User controls, you will find the Parental controls option. Switching this option on will prompt you to create a PIN and confirm it. After this has been completed, you can set your preferred age restrictions for which content can be downloaded. Make sure you hit Save before exiting out.

Windows 10 also allows you to create a specialized account for a child you are responsible for, which allows you to check in on their recent activities or schedule the amount of time they are permitted to use the device each day. Furthermore, you can restrict the content they are able to access and require every purchase (except those made with gift cards) from the Microsoft Store to receive your stamp of approval before proceeding.

To create this account, click on Settings > Accounts > Family and other people > Add a family member > Add a child. You can then either set up an account with an email address, or it the child doesn’t have an email address of their own, follow the appropriate link and create the account through the Setup Wizard.

Use Family Link

Family Link is an application that allows a parent or guardian an added level of management over a child’s device. It provides the capability to block certain apps and require permission for any downloads from the Play Store to complete, set screen time limits for the device, and manage settings on Google Search and YouTube Kids. Guardians can also use Family Link to remotely lock a child’s device and locate them as necessary.

If you implement a BYOD policy at work, make sure you also discuss the prospect of your child using the device with management. After all, you wouldn’t want an inquisitive kid somehow getting into company documents and messing them up.Just like you can protect your kids’ use of devices at home, WheelHouse IT can protect your use of devices in the workplace. Reach out to learn more by calling (877) 771-2384.

Precautions While Using the Internet

Precautions While Using the Internet

Every day people are bombarded with advertisements regarding general computer security. Many times it comes in the form of identity protection. Other times it may come in the form of antivirus software. Whatever the case, securing a computer while using the internet is not as daunting as some commercials would have computer users think. There are four very simple ideas one could keep in mind to ensure a very low likelihood of getting “hacked” while using the internet. 

  • Common sense
  • Beware of malicious software
  • Storing passwords on a computer
  • Browser security extensions 

Computers are designed to be an extension of the many ways that people think and are programmed as such. This implies that using common sense while browsing the internet can go a long way in keeping a computer user safe from data theft, identity theft, and other computer crimes. When browsing the internet, if something seems conniving, it may very well be so! Therefore, think twice before clicking that link or accepting that request from an unknown party, to say the least.

Many times that people have their private data stolen or their computer hacked is because “malicious software” is installed onto a computer being used by the victim. Malicious software is any type of software that does something illegal or is intended to generally defy the consent of those who use the computer it’s installed on. Malicious software is usually installed unknowingly by a computer user who thinks that legal and genuine software is being installed — the malicious software is hidden by what appears to be legal and genuine software. The point is that great care should be taken to be sure that the websites in which software is downloaded from are generally safe — malicious software usually comes from websites run by criminals. 

One of the conveniences of using the internet is the option to save usernames and passwords so that subsequent uses of certain websites are easier and quicker to access. The downside of this convenience is that if a computer catches a virus, that virus could be smart enough to record those usernames and passwords that are saved and forward that information to a criminal across the internet. Therefore, the pros and cons of saving usernames and passwords on a computer should be carefully weighed.

Lastly, as an extra measure of protection against internet crime, a computer user can install browser security extensions. A browser is what one uses to access websites on the internet. Internet Explorer, Chrome, and FireFox are browsers. An example of a couple of good browser security extensions is NoScript. A search of “browser security extensions” using an internet search engine will reveal many options to use for browsers. 

Please contact us for assistance in determining a balanced and secure approach to using the internet.