January is here, and we’ve got goals to crush. We want to be more productive. We want to spend more quality time with family. We want to get fit and lose some weight. Then there are those brave enough to tackle what’s going on in their parenting knower.
The knower is located in every parent’s internal command center. It knows what it should do but hasn’t quite gotten around to doing it. It won’t appear on an anatomy chart, but if you are a parent, you know precisely where your knower is because you can feel the weight of the guilt that collects there. One of the biggest guilt generators is knowing what we should do to lock down our family’s digital life, but somehow keep putting it off.
According to McAfee’s 2018 digital threat predictions several of the top technology threats coming our way this year target family safety specifically. The first threat: The growing power of the connected home and potential threats to family data privacy from big corporations. And, the second threat: Risky apps kids use and how companies can use content posted by users.
Both issues are big deals as our homes become more connected in new ways that are both exciting and, frankly, concerning when it comes to the issue of privacy.
So who is brave enough to lose the unwanted guilt weight? Here are a few easy things you can do to start 2018 to get your digital life in shape.
Inventory Your Homefront
Chances are you’ve accumulated a stockpile of digital products you don’t even realize pose a threat to your family’s security. Those devices likely need a password and privacy setting tuneup. Four steps to home safety: 1) Make a list of your devices 2) go into the settings and make the necessary updates 3) if a software update is needed, do that as soon as you get a notification. 4) To streamline that process, consider a central built-in security product that ensures every device in your house is well protected.
Products to put on your list: Smart TVs, digital assistants such as Alexa and Echo, drones, laptops, tablets, personal computers, home automation systems such as The Nest, home security systems, your home network, smartphones, Bluetooth car kits, digital toys, game systems, electronic keypads on doors and garages, digital cameras, baby monitors, and any digital appliance. Even cars can be targets for hackers as seen in the Jeep hack of 2015, in which hackers used a laptop to disable a car’s engine on the freeway and forced Fiat Chrysler to recall hundreds of thousands of vehicles.
With more homes becoming fully connected, experts agree it’s going to become harder to secure your privacy not only from hackers but marketers spying on users for profit. Do your homework on a product’s security standards before you purchase items and know what security gaps are currently in your home. Tip: Companies know that customers rarely read privacy agreements. Weak agreements tempt corporations to frequently change the privacy agreement after the devices and services are deployed to capture more customer information and revenue.
Talk More About the Big 3
Talking to your kids about digital safety is your most valuable defense against family security mishaps. Remind your kids of the Top Three Rules of Digital Responsibility 1) Don’t interact with strangers online 2) Don’t share personal information such as home address, email, birthdate or personal activities and plans and 3) Don’t upload or download inappropriate content or photos. The Internet never forgets and the damage done can be devastating.
Pay Attention to App Privacy
As identified in our threat predictions report, more and more kids are downloading apps with loose guidelines on how companies can use user-generated content. Educate your child about why this poses a danger and how daily interactions with these fun, social apps can affect their reputations in the future.
Slow Down, Click with Care
Living in a streaming, posting, click-here-now world has forced us to read and respond quickly. In doing so, we miss vital details, get in digital misunderstandings, and risk our privacy by clicking suspicious links. In 2018, take back your digital control by merely slowing down. Be it email, texts, social media posts — stop and think before you post, respond, or click links. Cybercrooks understand our habits and are always looking to exploit our weak points.
Make More Meaningful Connections
The ability to connect with others 24/7 can be both empowering and debilitating. We know in our knower when we are spending too much time glued to our smartphone and when our kids are also. Online connections will never compare to the rich relationships we can experience offline. This year, resolve to help your kids maintain a healthy perspective on digital versus face-to-face interactions. A healthy digital balance is especially crucial during tween and teen years since studies show that the more time kids spend online, the more isolation and depression can set in. Resolve to curb screen time by modeling balance, planning physical activity and phone-free outings, and establishing phone free zones in the home.
Remember, in making changes in this new year resolve not to look back. Embrace 2018 for all it is: A clean slate primed and ready for your family to establish and set new habits in motion. You’ve got this!
Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).