How to protect your kids – and yourself – on the Internet


by Becky GINOS

bginos@davisclipper.com

BOUNTIFUL—Technology should make life easier, but sometimes it makes it harder for parents. Staying ahead of social media, apps and the Internet can be overwhelming for parents trying to keep their kids safe. Last week, cyber security expert April Powers gave a presentation at Bountiful Elementary on what to watch out for  – not only for children but also as adults.

“Teens can be smarter than their parents. That is scary,” said Powers. “Kids don’t understand. They think they’ll never be a victim. They click on links and don’t even know they’re giving information to hackers. Bad guys entice them through Instagram or Facebook. Kids are naïve – they don’t tell mom and dad they just send more pictures because they don’t want to embarrass their parents or school. They’ll do anything the bad guys want.”

Powers said victims range between 10 years old to 19 years old. “Those are somebody’s children out there. It’s heartbreaking.”

About one in five teens have sent sexually suggestive, nude photos, she said. “Turn off the location settings on Snapchat. When you snap a picture it grabs your location and a ‘bad actor’ can read those files and find your home address.”

People can piece together personal information by clicking “like” buttons on social media, she said. “Be careful about what you like and tagging because you’re giving yourself away. Don’t add strangers either and stop posting everything about your life on Facebook.”

Install apps from a recognized app store and check the developer, said Powers. “How many of us read the app’s privacy disclaimer? Be aware of what permission you are granting. Think about it, why does a flashlight app need my personal information? All of these free apps – I don’t trust them.”

The key is to talk to your kids. Powers offers the following tips:

For kids under 10 set:

• Parental controls

• Boundaries

• Rules

For kids 10 to 13:

• Set boundaries

• Discuss what is safe

• Have access to their device

For kids 13 and over:

• Reinforce boundaries

• Give child control but review/explain dangers and consequences

She also recommends splitting the home Wi-Fi network. “Hackers can get to your information through your kids. They become the weakest link.”

Above all, become familiar with your kids’ online activities, said Powers. “You get to know their friends in person – get to know them online. We have a lot of smart things. Be a smarter human.”

Powers has a master’s in Info Assurance and Security and is pursing her PhD in the field. She owns the Bountiful-based business Cyphras. For more information about cyber security awareness or to schedule a presentation contact Powers at apowers@cyphras.com or visit www.cyphras.com.

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