7 Ways to Keep Your Family Safer Online

Learn how to stay on top of your cyber security at home with these insider tips




Learn how to stay on top of your cyber security at home with these insider tips

Virus scans and spam filters have long aided Canadian families during time spent online—but now, TELUS WISE is tackling cyberbullying to ensure Internet safety and generally improve what has become our collective, well-connected world. With a focus on education, particularly for students and families, the program shares a host of tips, services and resources that may just teach you a thing or two about how to stay safer online.

Here are seven things to keep in mind when you’re considering your family’s online safety and security…


1. Cyberbullying is an issue for the whole family

Bullying—everything from name-calling to violent threats—is often associated with school-aged children on the playground but bad behaviours can translate online, with trolling, stalking and intimidation making increasingly frequent appearances in digital interactions. TELUS WISE provides tips for three different audiences—parents, teachers and students—to best explain and equip all with the expertise to recognize a cyberbullying problem and the tools to make it better. For example, witnesses can often help diffuse a situation simply by speaking up calmly and respectfully.

2. Google yourself… and set an alert

You don’t need to be a Kardashian to be concerned about how much of your personal information is available online. To see what the rest of the world has access to at their fingertips, try Googling your name to get a sense of your digital footprint; you should also set up a Google alert which will notify you each time your name is posted online. It’s a good idea to do the same for your children, as information from schools or community groups can inadvertently be posted in public spaces.


3. Keep passwords strong

It sounds redundant, but in an age of hyperconnectivity, even the most educated among us can overlook the importance of strong passwords. In fact, among the most popular still floating out there in the world remains the simple, numerical combination “123456.” Using passwords that incorporate both upper- and lower-case letters as well as numbers and symbols—and ensuring you don’t rely on just one password across all devices and services—is crucial to maintaining your online security. This extends to your wireless network at home; password protection there can ensure both security and efficiency.


4. Stop the geotagging and oversharing

With the rise of the YouTube celebrity, oversharing online has become increasingly popular—but it can also put your personal safety on the line. One tip? Ensure the geotagging is turned off on family phones. (Learn how to do it on Apple products here or on your Android here.) Waiting until you’ve left a specific location before posting about it may be a good practice. As wonderful as universal experiences can be, a little less transparency can be a good thing.

Additionally, ensure Bluetooth functionality is turned off when not in use, particularly on your children’s phones. Otherwise, accessing photos, contact information or other pieces of electronic data can be incredibly easy for those in the vicinity of your enabled devices.


5. Stay up-to-date on privacy settings

Social networking sites will often change or update privacy and permission settings, so it’s a good idea to remain as up-to-date as possible. Schedule a reminder in your phone that encourages you to sit down every three to six months and review the settings on your accounts. Ask your kids to sit down with you to review their accounts too.

Be a more informed consumer by searching online for news and reviews about any apps you may want to download—before you add them to your devices. The wisdom of the crowd on the web may just save you from downloading something malicious.


6. Keep up with the latest safety tips

Given the speed at which our world changes online, remaining current with software updates and utilizing secure WiFi networks are two ways to ensure your safety remains in check. As an added, valuable resource, the TELUS WISE program extends its online presence with in-person Internet safety workshops for schools and other youth groups, parent groups and even seniors. Free workshops can be arranged by simple requests online. In addition, videos staffed with the stars of the Family Channel series The Next Step, Degrassi: Next Class and Backstage offer additional tips and tricks here.


7. Be aware of time spent

With the prevalence of online gaming and the popularity of social networking, the impact of our online presence can be witnessed in a number of our personal behaviours. In fact, according to the TELUS WISE report, Helping Canadian adults navigate their wired world, as many as 60 per cent of adults struggle with some sort of compulsive involvement with the Internet. And children aged seven to 15 are now, on average, spending more than five hours a day online. Remaining aware of your usage—and that of children—is critical.