How 2020 Helped Parents Understand Their Kids’ Digital Lives
Over the last 12 months, technology has featured in our lives in a way I don’t think any of us would have predicted. Whether you were in lockdown, choosing to stay home to stay well or quite simply, out of other option – technology saved the day. It helped us work and learn from home, stay connected with friends and family, entertain ourselves, shop and essentially, live our lives.
For many parents, this was a real ‘aha’ moment. A moment when technology went from being an annoying distraction to incredibly critical to the functioning of our day to day lives. Of course, many of us had always considered technology to be useful to help us order groceries and check Facebook but to experience first-hand that technology meant life could go on during a worldwide pandemic was a real game changer.
2020 Forced Many Parents to Truly Get Involved in Their Kids Online World
Whether it was downloading video calling apps like Zoom or Facetime, setting up a Twitter account to get updates from the Health Department, using Google Doc to work collaboratively or experiencing what online gaming really is via a few sessions on the Xbox, 2020 means many parents had to get up to date, real fast! And you know what – that’s a good thing! I’ve had so many parents remark to me that they know finally understand why their kids are so enamoured with technology. There really is nothing like walking in someone’s shoes to experience their world!
I’m a big believer in parents taking the time to truly understand the world in which their kids exist. For years, I’ve advised parents to download and use the apps and games their kids play so they can understand the attraction and complexity of their kids’ digital life. Well, it may have taken a global pandemic, but I am delighted to report that, anecdotally at this stage, more parents are now embracing their kids’ online world.
Don’t Forget About Online Safety!
When we first become enamoured with something, we often enter the ‘honeymoon’ phase. As a married woman of 28 years, this was many years ago for me!! The honeymoon phase is when everything is wonderful and rosy, and negatives are not always considered. And our relationship with technology can be much the same. And I’ve been there – there’s nothing quite so wonderful as discovering a new app or piece of software and almost being joyous at just how transformational it could be for your life. And this often means we gloss over or even ignore the risks because we are in love!!!
Here’s What You Need to Know
So, as Cybermum, I’m here to cheer you on and pat you on the back for embracing and using new apps and software. Yes, I’m very proud! But I also want to share with you just a few steps that you need to take to ensure you are not taking on any unnecessary risks with your new favourite app. Here are my top tips:
Every app, online account or piece of software needs it own individual password. Yes, I know that it is a real pain, but it is one of the most important things you will do to protect yourself online. I’m a big fan of password managers that not only generate the most incredibly complex passwords for each of your accounts but remember them for you. McAfee’s password manager, True Key, is a free option which has completely helped me manage my 80 plus collection of passwords!! Very grateful!
2. Software Updates
The main purpose of a software update is to protect the user from security threats. Yes, you may also get some new features and possibly have a glitch or 2 removed but it is all about the user’s safety. So, if you don’t update your software, it’s a little like leaving windows open when you go out. And the longer you leave between updates – the more windows you leave open!
So, automate these updates if you can or schedule them in your diary. Why not earmark the first day of the month to check and see what you need to download to protect yourself? And don’t forget about your operating system on your phone or laptop too!
3. Be Wi-Fi Wary
Dodgy wi-fi is where so many people come unstuck. Regardless of what app or software you are using, anything you share via unsecured wi-fi could be intercepted by a hacker. So, if you find yourself using wi-fi regularly, you might want to consider a Virtual Private Network or VPN. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel so anything you share via Wi-Fi cannot be intercepted. Genius, really! Check out McAfee’s Safe Connect for peace of mind.
So, please keep going! Keep exploring new ways technology can work for you in our new COVID world. But remember to take a break too. There is no doubt that technology has saved the day and has ensure we can all still function but there must be a balance too. So, walk the dog, play a board game or having a cuppa outside. Remember you manage the technology; it doesn’t manage you!
Till next time
Stay safe online.
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