A Guide to Safety Across Technology
Many of us cannot imagine what it must be like for a teenager to have access to information from across the globe at the touch of a button. With the newest phones, consoles and gadgets on the Christmas wish list, there is a whole world that young people are being introduced to. How can we be better prepared to help and support our youngsters as they navigate this new world that is oh so unfamiliar to many of us?
Here are a few tips and tricks that we can teach them to help keep them safe:
1) Use a secure password
Building trust with our youngsters is very important, and we want them to share their lives with us – much of which is stored on their phone. However, that information - if found by a stranger – can do more harm than good. Therefore, any device that holds personal information should be guarded with a password. We encourage students to share these passwords with their parents in case of emergency – or if they forget!
2) Disable location settings
Many devices automatically track your whereabouts – and this can mean over time, if hacked, strangers could learn your habits. To avoid this cause for concern, look through your device’s privacy control settings and disable location settings.
3) Secure WiFi
At home, and at the homes for friends and family, you will find secure Wifi networks – these networks require a password, and not everyone can join them. In public places with free Wifi, your device could be at risk of hacking. If you are in a place where you can’t trust everyone around you, avoid using the Wifi unless absolutely neccesary.
4) Bluetooth – Only with those you know!
A bluetooth pairing connection allows two devices to talk to each other and access each other’s data. This means that you are giving that device the rights to everything on your device. If you pair with a device you don’t know, you may be allowing strangers to see your personal information – or even send you a virus.
5) Age appropriate apps & parental controls
There are many apps available for phones, games consoles and even TVs! However, it is important that you only download and use those apps that are age appropriate. - you can check the age rating and parents can install parental controls on many devices to help prevent young people from seeing things they shouldn’t.
6) Beware of addiction
Technology is a drug, and phones and games consoles can be extremely addictive. Ensure that your schedule allows for time and activities away from all devices to help you have a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
7) Limit your screen time
Prolonged time looking at screens can affect your concentration, make you tired, and take away your interest from other things in life. Avoid using your phone close to bedtime, and wherever possible set a ‘screen time limit’ to make sure your eyes get a chance to rest and refocus on the real world.
8) Be sensible with photos
Be mindful of the photos you are taking – are they appropriate? Are they embarrassing? Would the person in the photo feel comfortable seeing this photo out in the world? If not, delete the photo immediately. If someone accidentally got access to your phone, that photo could be used for bullying or upsetting those in the photo, and that is something we want to avoid.
9) Let your parents know if you don’t feel safe
Particularly with phones, but even via online games – sometimes you can be contacted by someone you don’t know or see something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Speak to your parents, or another trusted adult, like a teacher or other family members – they can all advise you and help you with what to do next.
10) Don’t text and walk
It might seem like the obvious reason is so you don’t trip and fall, however some people have also been knocked over by cars or cyclists because they were focused on their phones and weren’t paying attention to their surroundings. Having a phone out for prolonged times when walking can also make it easy for a thief to steal it right out of your hand – so only use your phone in areas where you feel safe and secure.
11) Don’t share your number, email address or devices with people you don’t know
As we said your devices hold a lot of personal information about you, even if you are unaware of it. Never feel pressured into sharing these with strangers, and keep them out of sight if possible, in public places to avoid them being stolen or broken into.
Keep all this in mind and we wish you a very merry and safe Christmas and New Year!