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Reputation Management: Online Safety for Families

1 Sep 2015 by Scott Sterling

Earlier this year, British teacher Sammy Roocroft asked her class of pre-teens to take a picture of her using the “temporary” social sharing network Snapchat. She was holding a sign asking for people to share and like this supposedly private picture. She then took a screenshot of the picture and sent it to just one of her friends on Facebook.

Within a couple of weeks, thousands of people had shared her “private” photo — just as she predicted.

This was a teachable moment for her students. The lesson? Everything is permanent on the Internet, even something that is supposed to be secure.

Online reputation management and cleansing is a booming business — for adults. Starting children on the right track early can help save them from the headaches that some adults have experienced. That prevention starts with you.

Parental controls

Parental controls have come a long way in the past decade. Every device, gaming platform, entertainment medium and social network has settings that can be used by responsible parents to help their children use the Internet appropriately. It might seem like a lot of work, but familiarize yourself with all of those settings — and make sure your child knows that you will be using them. In particular, you are interested in blocking access to certain content and preventing (or at least monitoring) what your child shares online.

If those settings still aren’t enough, there are other options. Software and apps are available that can control access. Websites and proxy servers can be used to filter content and monitor activity on social networks. There are even secure routers and access points that you can use in your home to replace the one the cable company provides.

Software updates

A secure computer starts with taking updates and using the security capabilities of the device that are already baked in. Make sure your child is using the latest operating system and software versions, and activate any anti-malware and anti-virus settings on every device in the house.

‘Ask’ them for their help

Kids know so much more about technology than even the paid IT professionals at their school. They spend all day coming up with ways of getting where they want to go online. So, if you want to see their capabilities and open a dialogue about online safety, ask them to help you find something or do something on the Internet. You’ll learn something new about the Internet, and they will learn that you’re paying attention.

Learn more tips and information on Internet safety, cybercrime and cyberbullying.