Mark Goldberg

10 tips for back-to-school online safety

Last year, I wrote about the launch of the TELUS WISE programme, an initiative available to Canadians free of charge to help advance “Wise Internet and Smartphone Education”.

This year, in time for the back-to-school season, TELUS and TELUS WISE have produced a list of 10 tips to encourage online safety.

  1. Review the permissions before giving permission. Apps and social sites often ask for access to personal information that could put you at risk. Set rules around what info you and your kids will share and with whom.
  2. Keep it private. It is vital to constantly check and adjust privacy settings within apps and social sites to keep up with ever-changing defaults. Looks for app settings that share information publicly and change it to close friends only.
  3. Set-up a 24/7 watchdog for your name. Create a Google alert for yourself and each of your family members to track how your names are being used online and where you’re being mentioned. Find out more on the TELUS WISE site.
  4. Less is more. Limit the amount of potentially sensitive information posted online to lower chances of theft or abuse – think twice before posting last names, age, school names, vacation location or other personal info.
  5. Keep connections personal. A good general rule is to only connect and share with people that you know in real life. “Friending” people online whom you’ve never met increases your risk of exploitation.
  6. Think before you click. Always read the full path of the URL link you are about to click to make sure it’s going to take you where you want to go.
  7. Don’t be found. Turn off geo-tagging on smartphones and tablets to keep from being tracked. When this feature is enabled, your exact location can be exposed even if you’re just posting a photo. Ensure that apps that rely on location (e.g. Google Maps) are the only ones that have location enabled.
  8. Lock it down. Set passwords that are at least six characters long. Use at least one symbol, number and uppercase letter; for extra security use different passwords for each website or account you use.
  9. Don’t log in and leave it. Always be sure to log out of social accounts and apps when you aren’t using them. Disable or deactivate accounts and apps you no longer use.
  10. Keep your digital household clean. Set a recurring 3-month calendar appointment to check your online profiles, confirm privacy and permission settings on the social media sites you subscribe to and review any apps that you’ve downloaded.

Many kids will be getting their first mobile phones or personal computers as they head to school next week.

I think these tips are worth sharing with your family and friends.

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