With a few swipes and touches, mobile technology users can watch videos, make purchases, play online games, check a friend’s status update, track loved ones or even adjust the thermostat. These are just a handful of the thousands of conveniences at the fingertips of Edmond residents through connected devices.
The average American household has five connected devices, and one-in-five households are considered “hyper-connected,” containing 10 or more devices, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s why it’s important that Edmond families using the latest devices to enhance their lives also put the proper safeguards in place to protect for themselves and their families.
June is Internet Safety Month, making it a great time for individuals and families to increase the safety of their online experiences. The internet should be treated like any other public space. Oklahomans need to be self-aware of their surroundings and mindful of the fact that strangers, hackers, cyberbullies and scammers are all potential threats to online safety.
Here are a few tips for Edmond families and individuals to stay safe online.
Make sure all mobile devices are password-protected. A PIN, fingerprint or facial recognition should be required to unlock devices and access downloaded apps.
Only visit secure sites. Look for the small lock icon on the status bar of the browser, a trusted seal like TRUSTe or VeriSign and websites that begin with “https” as the “s” stands for secure.
Use firewalls. Just like a desktop computer, mobile devices should have anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam security and a personal firewall. Some of the latest devices come with these safeguards, while others require downloads.
Keep information secure. When making online purchases, users should avoid saving credit card and contact information to a site by checking out as a guest. And, keep tabs on which applications ask for location services and disable access as appropriate.
There are also several ways to help foster digitally responsible actions among children and teens. Talk openly about the dangers that exist online and the risks of oversharing. It is becoming increasingly popular for teens to have secondary social media accounts. For example, some kids only let their closest friends follow their second account so they feel like they can be more themselves – and post silly, less curated photos and thoughts.
Consider establishing expectations as it relates to screen time, data consumption, oversight, mobile manners and acceptable social media and gaming sites. To help parents establish parameters and set expectations for mobile and online use with their children, there is a free and customizable Parent-Child Agreement that can be found online at www.childphoneagreement.com. U.S. Cellular strives to provide its customers with the latest technology that can keep up with their lifestyle and enhance their lives and businesses.
Once Edmond families know and use these tips, the better protected they’ll be from identity theft, scams, hackers and other online threats.
Jack Sampson is U.S. Cellular retail area sales manager for the Edmond market.