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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.

Top 5 online safety tips for summer

June 4th, 2013 No comments

To help stay safe on your travels this summer, we recommend these Internet safety and privacy tips.

  1. Make sure your laptop or tablet has up-to-date antivirus and antispyware software installed. Windows 8 includes antivirus protection that’s turned on by default. If your computer isn’t running Windows 8, you can download Microsoft Security Essentials for free.
  2. Don’t broadcast vacation plans on your social networking site. If you’re leaving your house unoccupied and at risk for potential burglary, take a few minutes to adjust settings for sharing your location on your social networking site and any apps on your smart phone. If you have kids who go online, make sure they know this, too. For more information, see Use location services more safely.
  3. Lock your mobile phone. Use a four-digit PIN, or a password option, if you have it. Keep it secret. Use our password checker to test your password strength. Also, if you don’t need to store sensitive information on your phone, don’t. Learn more ways to secure your smartphone or learn about the Windows Phone privacy settings.
  4. Avoid typing sensitive information on your laptop using an unsecured wireless connection. If possible, save your financial transactions for a secured home connection. Passwords, credit card numbers, or other financial information are less secure on a public network. If you must enter credit card numbers while using a public network, make sure you see a locked padlock icon in the corner of the browser window and make sure the web address begins with HTTPS (the “S” stands for secure). Get more safety tips for using Wi-Fi.
  5. Your friend probably didn’t just get robbed in a foreign country. If you get an email from a friend who needs you to send him money while he’s on his vacation, be suspicious. A scammer can take over (or hijack) an email account and send an email to you that looks like it’s from someone on your contact list. Find a different way to try to contact your friend to find out if this email really came from him. With Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail), you can now report a friend who you think has been scammed, even if that friend doesn’t use Outlook.com. For more information, see Security features in Outlook.com.