WASHINGTON, May 31, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- June is linked in our minds with schools shutting their doors and families taking summer trips. It's also Internet Safety Month, which is a great time to remind parents and kids to take steps to protect their mobile devices. Smartphone ownership is up sharply. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 77 percent of American adults own a smartphone. This is up from 35 percent in a similar 2011 survey. This Internet Safety Month be #CyberAware and stay safe online with trouble-free tips from the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).
"Of course, we use our phones to text and talk," said Russ Schrader, NCSA's executive director. "But take a minute and think about the dozens of other things we do on our phones. Everything from socializing to navigating a new city to booking a hotel and getting sports scores can be done on our handy, hand-held devices. Take simple security measures but also share this valuable info with your kids. Even minimal changes can dramatically increase your protection from any number of cyber issues."
June can bring less hectic routines and schedules, so the time is right to stay both current and positively engaged with cyber safety. Influence Central indicates that ‒ on average ‒ a child gets his/her first smartphone at 10.3 years old. That same research reveals that by age 12, a full 50 percent of children have social media accounts ‒ primarily Facebook and Instagram. The youngest kids – who are the most vulnerable ‒ must learn to be safe and responsible. Additionally, an Experian study found that 33 percent of the 15 million Americans who have been victims of identity theft had their devices hacked while traveling. Now, more than ever, it is critical to safeguard connected devices as you teach your kids good cyber safety practices and as you prep for and enjoy your vacation.
"Establishing and upholding realistic boundaries around technology is an essential part of parenting," said Schrader. "With the pervasive use of smartphones among parents and kids, the need for ongoing education is more crucial than ever. In early May, the Federal Trade Commission updated its popular booklet, 'Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online', which is wonderful guide to help parents raise good online citizens."
NCSA's Tips for Safe, Summertime Fun
It's vital for parents to stay involved in their kids' online lives. Sharing on social and playing games are two popular mobile device pastimes. Keep in mind that both activities could likely include the potential sharing of names, birthdays, age, geographic location, contact information and photos with identifiable information. Children of all ages must be taught that a level of anonymity will help to protect them from those who might not have the best intentions.
Be Smart About Socializing
Here are three very basic things that will help protect personal information:
- Share with care – What you post can last a lifetime: Help your children understand that any information they share online can easily be copied and is almost impossible to take back. Teach them to consider who might see a post and how it might be perceived in the future.
- Post only about others as you would like to have them post about you: Remind children about the "golden rule" and that it applies online as well. What they do online can positively or negatively impact other people.
- Own your online presence: Start the conversation about the public nature of the internet as early as possible. Learn about and teach your kids how to use privacy and security settings on their favorite online games, apps and platforms.
Stay in the Game Safely
To the best of their ability, parents need to know what games their kids are playing. NCSA's recommends the following for staying safe online while playing games:
- Secure your kids' accounts: Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many account providers now offer additional ways for you verify who you are before you play games on that site.
- Make passwords and passphrases long and strong: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.
- Have your kids use an avatar rather than an actual picture of themselves.
- Use voice chat safely or not at all. If your kids play a game that features live voice chat, make sure they disguise their voice. If the game does not have this feature, do not let them use voice chat.
NCSA's Cyber Trip Advisor
Getting Ready to Go:
Travel has become – literally – more "mobile" than ever before. Avoid mayhem and make magical family memories by taking a few simple cyber safety steps before you head out of town.
- Keep a clean machine: Before you hit the road, make sure all security and critical software is up-to-date on your connected devices and keep them updated during travel. It is your best line of defense.
- Lock down your login: Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media. Begin your spring cleaning by fortifying your online accounts and enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device.
- Make sure all devices are password protected: Use a passcode or security feature (like a finger swipe) to lock your phone or mobile device.
- Own your online presence: Set the privacy and security settings on web services and devices. It is okay to limit how and with whom you share information – especially when you are away.
While on the Go:
Once you and your gang are at your destination, be sure to remember the following:
- Actively manage location services: Location tools come in handy while planning your trip or navigating a new place, but they can also expose your location ‒ even through photos. Turn off location services when not in use.
- Get savvy about WiFi hot spots: Do not transmit personal info or make purchases on unsecure networks. Instead, use a virtual private network (VPN) or your phone as a personal hotspot to surf more securely.
- Turn off WiFi and Bluetooth when idle: When WiFi and Bluetooth are on, they connect and track your whereabouts. If you do not need them, switch them off.
- Protect your $$$: Be sure to shop or bank only on secure sites. Web addresses with "https://" or "shttp://", means the site takes extra security measures. However, an "http://" address is not secure.
- Never use public computers to log in to any accounts: Be extremely cautious on public computers in airports, hotel lobbies and Internet cafes. Keep activities as generic and anonymous as possible.
- Share with care: Think twice before posting pictures that you would not want certain people (like your parents or employer) to see or photos that would reveal you are traveling.
Upcoming Virtual Event and Resources
#ChatSTC Twitter Chat: Top Tips for a Fun, Cyber Safe Summer
Thursday, June 14, 3 p.m. EDT/Noon PDT
June doesn't just mark the beginning of summer – it's also Internet Safety Month! School's out, connected devices are in! While the internet offers opportunities to learn, socialize and explore, it also comes with potential dangers. In this #ChatSTC we'll share easy, actionable tips and advice you can use right now to keep yourself and the young people in your life safe online all summer long.
- Here's some practical information about protecting your mobile devices
- Read NCSA's Privacy Tips for Parents
- Check out these wireless safety tips for travelers from Private WiFi and STOP. THINK. CONNECT.
- The Department of Homeland Security offers a suite of multi-audience resources and tools at dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.
- Identity theft can often take place while you are traveling and constantly providing credit card information. Get resources and assistance from the Identity Theft Resource Center.
NCSA is the nation's leading nonprofit, public-private partnership promoting cybersecurity and privacy education and awareness. NCSA works with a broad array of stakeholders in government, industry and civil society. NCSA's primary partners are DHS and NCSA's Board of Directors, which includes representatives from ADP; Aetna; AT&T Services Inc.; Bank of America; CDK Global, LLC; Cisco; Comcast Corporation; ESET North America; Facebook; Google; Intel Corporation; Logical Operations; Marriott International; Mastercard; Microsoft Corporation; Mimecast; NXP Semiconductors; Raytheon; RSA, the Security Division of EMC; Salesforce; Symantec Corporation; TeleSign; Visa and Wells Fargo. NCSA's core efforts include National Cyber Security Awareness Month (October); Data Privacy Day (Jan. 28); STOP. THINK. CONNECT™; and CyberSecure My Business™, which offers webinars, web resources and workshops to help businesses be resistant to and resilient from cyberattacks. For more information on NCSA, please visit staysafeonline.org/about.
SOURCE National Cyber Security Alliance