This year’s 8th annual Ramirez Christmas video card is dedicated to those who serve Him by serving others. Merry Christmas!
One of the most common questions parents ask me is, “How do you filter/monitor your kids’ Internet activity?” In our house, it’s through the utilization of Microsoft’s free Windows Family Safety software.
This only works on Windows PCs, but since my wife is the only one for which I’ve ponied up the money for a Macbook, the kids all still have basic Windows laptops, so this option works well for us. We’re also still using Windows 7, so I can’t quite speak to the cool new Windows 8 solutions either. That said, I can tell you about my experience with Windows 7 and Windows Family Safety.
Overall, our family is very pleased with the experience. The kids do get annoyed sometimes when the filter gets a bit over ambitious on the Pinterest posts (almost anything with any sort of skin gets blocked – i.e. cute bracelets and ring photos). But I’d rather have it error on that side than the alternative.
Family Safety does an admirable job of filtering out all the bad stuff the Internet has to offer. It provides a number of “levels” of filtering, as well as a very comprehensive reporting tool listing everything your kids visit online. It’s cloud based, which lets you log on from any computer to check on things, and it even has tools to set time limits and such for each child.
And my favorite feature: it’s FREE! Yeah, I’m geeky and cheap.
NOTE: This only helps protect your kid’s computers. Don’t forget about the rest of your Internet-enabled devices. Read this post for more details on DNS Filters for your Internet router, and this post for more info on locking up your iPhones, iPods, and iPads.
And don’t be shy, please share this with other parents so they can learn how to better protect their kids from the nasty underbelly of the Internet.
There have been an alarming number of recent high-profile password hacking incidents among some of the largest online services such as Twitter, Apple, Facebook, and Dropbox. The latest being Evernote. Considering how lazy most of us are with our passwords, this is a very scary trend. To highlight the seriousness, let me toss out a quick scenario:
So, let’s assume you are smarter than 94% of us and have a nice, long, alphanumeric password with punctuation (something like “Ih@t3MyP@ssw0rd!”) for your gmail account. This is a very good first step. The problem occurs when you decide to use that same password for say Facebook, Twitter, your bank, and perhaps Amazon. Or maybe you even go so far as to use it everywhere, including that new dog grooming forum you joined last month. So what happens when one of these sites are hacked? Suddenly, that super strong uncrackable password is now as naked as your two year old in the kiddie pool. And, suddenly, someone has taken that password and cleaned out your bank account.
So what ARE the best password practices?
If you have time, please read this great post on password best practices. If you’re like most everyone else, just keep reading and hopefully you’ll soak in a couple of the most basic points:
Now that you know some best practices for password security, enjoy the following info-graphic highlighting just how smart you are compared to the rest of the world.
Most parents acknowledge that unrestricted Internet access can be dangerous for children. But few realize just how dangerous. It’s shocking to learn just how many households leave unrestricted computers, iPads, gaming consoles, etc. laying around for their kids to explore. For the sake of my kids, I thought I’d post some of the scariest stats I’ve found on the topic. Perhaps this will help get more families to consider installing filters and locking down their iOS devices to protect their own kids (and mine/yours when they’re visiting).
And finally, to bring it all home, let me share a much more personal example. This is an actual email my daughter received from her 12 year old friend. Yes, this stuff can happen to anyone!
Let that one sink in for a bit. This was a huge wake-up call in our house. After reading this email, these weren’t just scary stats anymore. It quickly became a sickening reality.
I should also point out a few very important things about this specific example:
For more details about the stats in this email visit: www.internetsafety101.org/Pornographystatistics.htm
If you’ve got any sort of smartphone, you probably know all about Instagram. It’s an iPhone/Android app that helps you make your average photos look “semi-pro”. I’m pretty addicted to it, actually. In fact, I think I’ll give myself a shameless plug just to get more followers and coveted likes. @keneramirez is my Instagram handle.
Everybody wants to be liked. Especially insecure kids and youth. This insatiable desire to be liked, combined with an ever-present Internet-connected camera phone is what’s made this simple app so incredibly popular. It’s also what makes it so dangerous for your kids. Unfortunately, kids don’t always have the wisdom to know what is appropriate and safe to share online. And Instagram conveniently installs itself preset to make all your photos public. That’s right, out of the box, Instagram takes every photo you take with it and makes it available for anyone who wants to see it. It also lets you “geo-tag” any photo you want. While this can seem cool at first, imagine what a child predator can learn about your kid with a handful of photos that have been plotted out on a map. What happens if several of those photos were taken at your home?
But wait, this gets even scarier… Now there is a growing group of Instagram users who are sharing their “kik” instant messenger profiles with each other. From the fun logo you’d think this was just another simple chatting site. Unfortunately, the majority of the people sharing kik addresses with each other on Instagram are less interested in chatting and more interested in sharing photos that Instagram desperately tries to keep off it’s family-friendly network.
If you’ve got kids or youth who are on Instagram (or who are begging to get on), you need to read this detailed experience with Instagram & Kik by Michael Sheehan over at HighTechDad.com. Sheehan describes his daughter’s foray into Instagram and his shocking discovery of Kik. He also outlines a number of helpful best practices every Instagram user should know.