The pandemic continues to rage globally, which means that online learning and remote work are still at all-time highs. The new normal is actually not that new anymore and, in truth, feels anything but normal. While Covid-19 has kept us indoors, where we can keep our bodies healthy, another “virus” has followed us: it lingers around our phones, laptops, and desktops waiting to violate our online privacy and disrupt our lives. According to one study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, problematic internet usage has risen to a rate of one-third during Covid-19. This stuff matters.
So, what is the fix? While there is no tried and tested playbook when it comes to the wide world of the web, parents have to understand what the risks actually are to their families and know what to look for. We can start with saying “stay safe” – but stay safe from what? What does that even mean? It can mean anything from identity theft to inappropriate content to predators cyberbullying to stalking to stolen information. All of this comes down to one thing: people in your business!
Here are 8 things to remember to keep your loved ones safe online:
Teach kids about privacy. Give an example of what having none would mean in “their world.” It is important to discuss the value of protecting your identity with your children. Private parts: no one has the right to touch or take their ideas, thoughts, and pictures or know their favorite things or friends.
Teach children “privacy hygiene." They will need it for the rest of their lives.
Show your kids how to put your apps to sleep! Schedule data collection. Yes, you can set specific times that social media apps can collect data on you. This ends the 24-hour cycle once and for all, removing you from it and all of its dangers.
Show your kids that their technology needs to learn some manners. Teach your apps like you would teach other people. Create a schedule for their screen time. Set boundaries for how and where they use their device. Learn the features that allow you to truly unplug. Set some basic house rules for phones, “the announced house guest” in your home today.
Let your child know, that those ads are not for them. Limit the ads. You are in control of the ads that you see, and this power matters. Tell your phone what it can and cannot show you or your loved ones. This means that you are pushing back against the ad saturation and misinformation trends that have become so common.
Teach permission. Read between the lines, reviewing privacy and security settings carefully. Instead of going with the default settings, decide which accounts and social media apps will be able to access each function. Consider the consequences of each setting.
Do not become a product of big business. They say, "if are not searching for a product, you turn into one" (The Social Dilemma, Netflix 2020). You turn into a product becoming a data point on a list for corporations to sell or share. How does that feel? A little violated huh…
Learn more. It is worth looking for online community education and apps that will advocate for those most vulnerable. The goal is to spread this awareness like wildfire and spark what will be a shift in internet and mobile phone usage. We are building the future we want to see, using technology for what we need, without letting it use us!
As with any new idea or movement, all of this will take time. The more we can raise awareness, though, the more we can support families and offer resources for equitable solutions. We are trying to take care of our most vulnerable.
We're working on the solution for this: Priv the App. When it's ready, we could use your help. Sign up below to get an email when it's time for you to contribute.