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Do you know your kids’ passwords?

August 27th, 2014 No comments

This is the second of two blog posts on password protection. Read Part 1: Create strong passwords and protect them.

Whether or not you should know all of your kids’ passwords depends on their age, how responsible they are, and your parenting values.

However, kids of any age and responsibility level need to know how to create strong passwords and how to protect those passwords.

Sharing is great, but not with passwords

Your kids should never give their friends their passwords or let them log on to their accounts. Also, be careful sharing your passwords with your kids.

3 strategies for strong passwords

  • Length. Make your passwords at least eight (8) characters long.

  • Complexity. Include a combination of at least three (3) uppercase and/or lowercase letters, punctuation, symbols, and numerals. The more variety of characters in your password, the better.

  • Variety. Don’t use the same password for everything. Cybercriminals can steal passwords from websites that have poor security and then use those same passwords to target more secure environments, such as banking websites.

For more information, see Help kids create and protect their passwords.

Do you know your kids’ passwords?

August 27th, 2014 No comments

This is the second of two blog posts on password protection. Read Part 1: Create strong passwords and protect them. Whether or not you should know all of your kids’ passwords depends on their age, how responsible they are, and your parenting values. However, kids of any age and responsibility level need to know how to create strong passwords and how to protect those passwords.

Sharing is great, but not with passwords

Your kids should never give their friends their passwords or let them log on to their accounts. Also, be careful sharing your passwords with your kids.

3 strategies for strong passwords

  • Length. Make your passwords at least eight (8) characters long.
  • Complexity. Include a combination of at least three (3) uppercase and/or lowercase letters, punctuation, symbols, and numerals. The more variety of characters in your password, the better.
  • Variety. Don’t use the same password for everything. Cybercriminals can steal passwords from websites that have poor security and then use those same passwords to target more secure environments, such as banking websites.

For more information, see Help kids create and protect their passwords.

Do you know what your children are doing online?

This week in the UK, Microsoft launches the Safer Families program for parents to help their kids stay safer online.

According to recent Microsoft research*:

  • 98 percent of UK parents with children at home agree that protecting their children online is necessary, yet almost 50 percent have not used the family safety settings or functions on the devices their children use.
  • Of these, 50 percent don’t know how to do so, and 50 percent know how, but just haven’t done it yet.

*The survey interviewed 1000 parents in the UK with children at home aged 5-16 years.  

So what can parents do? 

Microsoft makes it easy by providing parental controls that are built into its products and services. The new Safer Families program is designed to help parents remove the feeling of ”parental tech paralysis” and switch on safety settings on your Microsoft technology and devices at home.

Learn more about the Safer Families program and how to turn on parental controls on your Microsoft devices.

10 New Year’s resolutions for your digital devices and your online life

December 31st, 2013 No comments

It’s a new year, which means it’s time to resolve to create healthier habits in our daily lives. But we don’t have to stop at just improving our body, mind, and spirit. It’s also a good idea to resolve to keep our PCs, laptops, smartphones, and social networking sites healthy this year.

1. Keep your software up to date. You can help protect against viruses, fraud, and more by keeping your operating system, antivirus software, antispyware software, web browser, and other software updated. Microsoft releases security updates on the second Tuesday of every month. Learn how to get security updates automatically.

2. Create strong passwords, keep them secret, and change them regularly. This is particularly important for those passwords that safeguard your computer, important accounts (like email or Facebook), and sensitive information, like financial and health data. Get more information about creating strong passwords and protecting them.

3. Use antivirus software. If your computer is running Windows 8, you can use the built-in Windows Defender to help you detect and get rid of spyware and other malware. If your computer is running Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, Windows Defender removes spyware.

4. Check and adjust your privacy settings. You can participate in the online world and keep your information private. Learn more about how to manage your privacy settings in Windows, Internet Explorer, your Microsoft account, Windows Phone, and more. 

Watch a video about privacy in action (1:19).

5. Teach your children about online safety. Before kids use computers, gaming consoles, or mobile devices, make sure you agree on clear limits, talk about how to keep accounts and passwords secret, and help them stand up to online bullying. If your child got a new device this holiday season, read this checklist for safety tips.

6. Monitor your children’s online behaviors, and continue to talk to them about Internet safety. If your kids are online, it’s important to have regular online safety conversations and to continue to keep track of what they’re doing. For more information, see Age-based guidelines for kids’ Internet use.

7. Upgrade to modern software that provides the latest security technologies and protections. Advanced security technologies in modern operating systems are specifically designed to make it more difficult, more complex, more expensive, and therefore, less appealing to cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities. Learn more about how support for Windows XP ends this year.

8. Use SkyDrive to help protect your personal information. Ransomware is a type of malware designed to infiltrate your computer and hold your files (photos, documents, reports, etc.) hostage until you pay the demanded amount of money to a cybercriminal. One of the best ways to protect your files is to back them up using a removable drive or a cloud service like SkyDrive.

9. Explore new tools for PC protection. If you feel comfortable performing more advanced computer tasks, consider downloading the free Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET), which will make it even more difficult for malicious hackers and cybercriminals to get into your computer.

10. Ignore fake tech support phone calls. Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes. If you receive a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft, all you have to do is hang up. For more information, see Avoid tech support phone scams.

 

Online safety for kids with new digital devices

December 24th, 2013 No comments

We know that lots of kids will be getting new phones, tablets, laptops, gaming systems, and other digital devices this holiday season. If you’re a parent, guardian, or educator, here are some tips for helping kids stay safe.

  • Agree on the rules. Come up with guidelines that work for your family, and post them somewhere at home. Microsoft offers a sample agreement, the Get Game Smart PACT (PDF, 2.16 MB), to help you sort out family rules.

  • Protect their privacy. Teach kids how to keep their accounts private and lock their devices with a PIN or password. Consider disabling the location services on your young child’s devices.

  • Monitor use. Know who your kids are communicating with, what games they’re playing, and what websites or services they’re using. Follow the recommended age limits on games and social networking websites. Set limits that work for your family.

  • Teach your kids to stand up to online bullying. Encourage your kids not to post or text anything that would hurt or embarrass someone. Make sure they know never to make, send, or accept provocative texts, photos, or videos.

For more information, see our new Digital Gift-Giving Checklist.

Download a printable version of the checklist.

Parental controls in Xbox One

December 3rd, 2013 No comments

Xbox One is the newest all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft. If you’ve already purchased one, or if you plan to, it’s a good idea to learn more about the built-in privacy and safety parental controls.

Control the content your children play and watch

Customize your children’s access to specifically rated games, movies, TV shows, and music according to their ages. By default, if the child is under 8 years of age, Access to content is set to “off.”

Filter the web

Parental controls let you determine what kinds of websites children can view in the Xbox One Internet Explorer app. 

Manage what your children download and buy

Xbox One enables you to control what kinds of apps each child may download from the Xbox store. The setting options are:

  • Blocked (none)
  • Free apps only
  • Free or paid apps

For more information:

Help teens prepare for digital drama with new ebook

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month—a great time to check in with your family about their online safety habits. Are everyone’s devices and apps up to date with the latest security? When was the last time you reviewed your children’s online profile, or helped them update the privacy settings on their social networks?

For teens in particular, it’s important to help them prepare to deal with the “drama” that can unfold within their online social circles. While teen conflict is nothing new, today’s gossip, jokes, and arguments often play out through social media like Formspring, Twitter, and Facebook. Teens often refer to this as “drama.”

We’ve asked Linda McCarthy, online safety expert and author, to share insights about her new digital book, Digital Drama: Staying Safe While Being Social Online.

DOWNLOAD THE BOOK FREE!
From September 24 through 27, you can download English and Spanish versions of the ebook FREE.

Add a calendar reminder

 

 

 

 
Kim Sanchez: You’ve written a number of books about online safety and security for teens. Why the focus on this audience?

Linda McCarthy: In 2009, my two teenagers destroyed the security on my home network; that was a game changer for me. I spent 15 years protecting security networks for corporations, and this happened in my house. At that moment I knew that I had to help families—kids love technology and they need help understanding the risks.

Kim Sanchez: So this was the impetus behind Digital Drama?

Linda McCarthy: Yes. The Internet is a great resource for connecting, learning, and entertainment, but these limitless possibilities also open the door to risky situations. Parents worry about their kids talking to strangers in person—online that risk is 24/7. Also, many parents feel overwhelmed by technology features and functions. Watching the kids in my house grow up on the Internet, and the challenges they (and I) faced, I felt that teens need more information on how to stay safer online.

Kim Sanchez: What are you hearing from kids about the ebook?

Linda McCarthy: The response has been great, which excites me because this is my first digital book. I’ve been writing and publishing security books for 20 years, and I love to hold a solid book in my hands, so I wasn’t sold on the ebook idea. However, teens prefer to read online and we have to be able to give kids what they want, right?

Kim Sanchez: What is an important tip you’d give teens to help them deal with digital drama?

Linda McCarthy: Know when to walk away, when NOT to respond, and when to get help.

  • Know when to walk away. When your friends start documenting their stupidity online, don’t hang around and become the star in their pictures or videos. Anything that’s posted online can stay around forever.
  • Know when NOT to respond. If “friends” start sending you bullying text messages, don’t get pulled into their drama by responding. Bullying can be a crime depending on what the bullies are doing.
  • Know when to get help. When drama is about to turn lethal or bullying is happening, reach out to a trusted adult for help. You can do it anonymously so you don’t become the next victim of the bully, and reaching out might just help someone else, too.

Kim Sanchez: How about a tip for parents that would help teens deal with digital drama?

Linda McCarthy: The most important thing I can say to parents is don’t just hand your child a new device, like a smart phone or tablet, and that’s it. Instead, set up some rules of the road together.

For example, guidelines for using a phone might include no bullying or teasing others, no texting and driving, share location cautiously, and create a positive online profile (don’t share scandalous photos). Then if drama unfolds, you can refer back to the family agreement, which might help minimize the extent of the drama.

Kim Sanchez: Your book was written for teens. Would it be useful for anyone else?

Linda McCarthy: Digital Drama has something for everyone. Parents can read it and get ideas about how to talk with their kids about online safety. Even if you don’t have kids, you’ll find guidance that will help you, a family member, or a friend. So download the ebook and share it with everyone you know.

Kim Sanchez: You’ve devoted an entire chapter to online bullying, or “cyberbullying.” Why is that?

Linda McCarthy: According to Microsoft research, 62 percent of teens have witnessed cruel behavior online. Just about every teen I talk to either knows someone who has been bullied, or has been bullied themselves. So, I’ve given ten pointers to help teens protect themselves and their friends from cyberbullying—starting with reporting it. I’m also publishing a book for parents about cyberbullying this fall: Cyberbully Upstander: My Child Is Safe. Parents need to talk with kids about bullying and why it’s important to reach out and get help when first witnessing it.

Join the Twitter conversation!

Join Microsoft and other online safety experts on September 25 at 3:00 p.m. EDT/12:00 p.m. PDT as we chat with Linda McCarthy (@ddramabook) about how her ebook can help you talk with kids about digital safety. (Use #ChatSTC to join.)

Win cool prizes for your online safety creation

December 13th, 2012 No comments

Calling all teens!

Here’s your chance to create something fun that can help others. Start by reading the eligibility requirements and prize information in the official rules. Then have a look at the online safety materials from Microsoft for ideas to do one of the following:

  • Stage a skit or presentation
  • Produce a video
  • Write a story or draw a cartoon
  • Compose a song
  • Conduct a survey

Participate in the Safer Online Teen Challenge

Windows 8 helps keep your family safer

November 6th, 2012 No comments

The newest operating system from Microsoft has several security features designed to help protect you and your family online. You can monitor your children’s Internet use, block or allow access to certain websites, and choose which games or apps your kids can access.

Learn more about how to keep your family safer with Windows 8

Don’t have Windows 8 yet? Log on to Microsoft’s Family Safety website to learn about security in Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

Kids and technology: Is there any good news?

September 25th, 2012 No comments

What if we stopped listening to the fear-based news about cyberbullying, over-sharing, and loss of privacy?

What if we focused on research that doesn’t make for a scary headline on the evening news?

Would it surprise you to learn that a recent study by the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) and the Pew Internet Project showed 69 percent of teens reporting that their peers are mostly kind on social networking sites?

A Platform for Good is a new FOSI project aimed at changing the conversation about kids and technology. The site is designed for parents, teens, and teachers to share information and to do good online. A Platform for Good features a blog written by experts in the field, a resource center with videos and curriculum for teachers, and many other interactive features.

For more information, see Announcing “A Platform for Good” – A Place to Connect, Share and Do Good or go directly to A Platform for Good.

Do you know what your kids are doing online?

July 31st, 2012 No comments

Last month McAfee released results from their 2012 Teen Internet Behavior study. The study revealed that 61 percent of teens think that they can successfully hide their online behavior from their parents.

Here are a few examples of what they do:

  • Erase browser history
  • Minimize browser window when parents come into the room
  • Use their cell phone for Internet activity, instead of the family computer

We think that the best way to protect your child on the Internet is for both parents and kids to understand the risks and for families to communicate with each other about their experiences online. That means making sure everyone knows the basics of online safety. Some parents have also found that once you establish your own rules, it helps to create an Internet contract.

For more information:

Safer spring break

April 9th, 2012 No comments

A recent article in The New York Times claimed that the ubiquity of social networking encourages college and high school spring breakers to limit their public displays of risky behaviors now that they know that everyone (including parents) could potentially watch them online.

We’ve written about how everything that gets posted online (by you or by someone else) can potentially be seen by college admissions officers, employers, health insurance providers, and others. Here are some safety tips to keep your spring break from ruining your future.

  • Don’t share more than you need to.
  • Think before you post pictures and video online, even if it’s on a site that’s restricted to friends only.
  • Don’t post anything online that you do not want made public.
  • Don’t broadcast vacation plans if it means leaving your house unoccupied and at risk of burglary.
  • Take a few minutes to adjust the privacy settings on your social networking site and any apps on your smart phone that share your location information.
  • Minimize details that identify you or your whereabouts.
  • Choose how private you want your profile or blog to be.
  • Monitor what others post about you.

For more information, see:

Making the Internet safer for children

December 15th, 2011 No comments