5 Cyber Safety Lifehacks for Families (5 Minutes or Less)

Raising a child to be a digitally discerning adult—while trying to slay our own online dragons—seems to take more hours than many parents have in any given day.

That’s the beauty of Lifehacks—those lovely how-to shortcuts that seem to make most everything in our abbreviated, click-happy world seem, well, almost doable. And, yes—there’s even a few cyber security Lifehacks for those frazzled parents who need some safety shortcuts . . . sooner than later.

So here are 5 cyber safety Lifehacks for families that will take 5 minutes to complete:

  1. Create a two-factor Facebook authentication. By establishing two levels of Facebook authentication—a Facebook code and a password—to log into Facebook, you (or your child) will be protected from anyone else logging into your account. Set this up by going to your Facebook account Settings > Security > Login Approvals. The code will be sent to either your phone via text or in an email. (Note: Each time you log into your Facebook account from a new computer or mobile device, you will need the Facebook code.) This lifehack comes in handy when kids attempt to hijack one another’s Facebook accounts or when you might be using public wi-fi and be vulnerable to hackers.
  2. Lockdown personal information. Kids like to share online. Everything. Go through all of your child’s social networks and make sure that her profiles do not include an address, school name, birth date, phone number, email, or any links to more private profiles (such as Ask.fm, Snap Chat, or Tumblr). Extended Lifehack: peruse all posts and photos and make sure that addresses, school names on clothes, and locations are not obvious in the posted photos. Posting such information could leave your child’s life details open to predators, password hackers, and identity thieves.
  3. Get posts sent to your phone. It takes exactly three minutes to get your child’s Facebook updates sent to your phone via SMS (text). Follow these instructions on Facebook so you can monitor what kind of information your child is sharing by the hour. Coach her when she errs on the side of TMI (Too Much Information) in her posts regarding sharing personal information. To set this free service up go to your personal Facebook page under Account Settings > Notifications > Text Message > Input the name of the Facebook friend (your child) whose updates you would like have sent to you via text.
  4. Clean up third party apps. Third party apps on both Twitter and Facebook provide a backdoor to information miners. Any information your child’s friends can see on their social networks, a third party app can see once they have access. Make sure your child has linked her personal accounts (Facebook, Google +, Twitter) to only frequently used, legitimate apps. On Facebook go to Settings > Apps > delete any apps that are defunct or never used. On Twitter go under Settings (gear icon) > Drop Down to Settings > Apps (left side bar).
  5. Set up Google alerts. To keep tabs on your child’s online reputation, set up Google Alerts for her name. Google will deliver emails (alerts) to your inbox whenever your child’s name is mentioned anywhere online be it in an article, blog, comments, and photo tags that may give mention of your child elsewhere online. Just go to Google’s Home Page > More Tab (on nav bar) > Even More (tab) > Alerts > fill out information (i.e.: your child’s name).

McAfee, along with the National Cyber Security Alliance, are making it easy for users to participate in NCSAM with Digital Lifehacks. These lifehacks are providing simple tips to stay safe online and are encouraging sharing of this content by offering prizes like a Dell Ultrabook™ and McAfee LiveSafe™ for sharing this content!

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @SafeEyes
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