How to Be Cyber-Safe and Aware

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Smartphones and similar devices have taken the world by storm. Almost everyone now carries a small computer everywhere with them, including children and older people. This offers plenty of opportunities for connection and communication with others. You can talk to anyone, anywhere in the world. You can even run a business online. You have the internet at your fingertips.

While this is a great time for technology and innovation, it can also open you up to certain dangers. After all, not everyone who’s online is someone you want to connect with. So, here are some ways to be more safe and aware when you’re online.

Teach Your Children

First things first, you should think about protecting the more vulnerable people in your life. Everyone is potentially at risk when online, but children are especially so. 

Younger children (and many teenagers) don’t have the best decision-making skills. While they might be tech-savvy, they aren’t necessarily aware of the potential risks of the internet and social media.

This means that it’s up to the adults in their lives to protect them. In some cases, this means becoming at least as tech-savvy as your kids. If you want to use parental controls to manage what your kids are doing online and how often, you should learn how to apply them and make sure your kids don’t get around them.

But you should also talk to your kids about the potential dangers online and how to be safe. Make sure your conversations are age-appropriate and easy to understand. 

VPNs and Extra Security

While your phone and other devices might have a measure of security built-in, it’s often beneficial to not only learn how to use the security on your phone, but also to add some extra features.

For example, you might want to change IP address on android or an apple device to access certain websites and media, or to make it harder to find your device. 

Social Media Privacy

Often, it’s not clever hacking that’s the biggest danger online. Your social media account can show a lot of information about you and your family, partially by design. But while most social media platforms automatically make your information public, you can control this.

Making your social media private means that the only people who can see who you are and what you post are the people you choose to allow access. You can even make it so strangers can’t contact you, let alone see your pictures.

Avoiding Scams and Hacks

On a similar note, pay attention to who tries to contact you. People may try to access your accounts or even get you to send them money. Never click a link you don’t trust and, if you suspect something is a scam or hack attempt, report it.

Tracking and Sharing Your Location

One safety feature phones allow is the option to share your location. This can be handy when you’re traveling abroad, so your loved ones know where you are and where you should be.

On the other hand, make sure people can’t track you without your permission or knowledge. Don’t hand your phone to someone you don’t trust. Some phones can pick up devices like airtags and alert you to potential tracking attempts.

Jenn Leach, MBA

Jenn Leach is a Houston-based MBA with over a decade of experience in the banking industry. She writes at Millennial Nextdoor where she writes finance, money, business, and lifestyle content to help millennials create additional income streams online. Join her on Substack at https://jennleach.substack.com.

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