Five Online Safety New Year’s Resolutions for You and Your Family

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When you think about New Year resolutions, you normally think about people setting personal goals, like exercising more, eating healthier or finding a new job – but what about resolutions that the whole family can benefit from?

When it comes to digital safety and privacy, most families probably have a number of things that they can do to better protect themselves in 2013. Below are five simple resolutions that you can start, and probably complete, today. Please don’t hesitate to add in your own online safety resolutions in the comments section below!

1) Understand and Use Facebook’s Newest Privacy Settings

Recently, Facebook rolled out yet another update to their privacy settings. The enhancements, including a new Shortcut menu, give users quick access and more control over the people they block, the apps they are invited to use and who can see the things they post, be it friends or the public.

Facebook has also increased the number of Timeline security options that are available. Facebook users not have greater control over what content is posted on their Timeline and who can see it. Understanding each one of these changes can be a bit tricky, so I worked with our editorial team to provide you with a step-by-step breakdown.

2) Safety-Enable Computers and Other Internet-Connected Devices in Your Home

One of the best things you can do before handing a new tech gadget to your child is safety-enabling it. That means, learning what safety features it comes with out-of-the-box, and what additional services or products you can take advantage of, whether your goal is to create an age-appropriate experience for your child or to keep tabs on their activity.

The links below lead to full how-to articles that show you the safety-enabling process of these devices. Most can be done in a matter of minutes, while others might take a little getting used to.

  1. Windows 8 Computers
  2. Mac OSX Computers
  3. KindleFire
  4. WiiU
  5. iPodTouch, iPhoneandiPad

If you’re looking for more, visit the “How To” section in Yoursphere for Parents to find step-by-step guides on just about everything.

And we also offer a list of parental monitoring solutions and safe apps that we’ve personally tested and reviewed.

3) Backup Family Photos and Important Documents

Backing up all those holiday memories is important; after all, you don’t want your computer or smartphone to crash and take all your photos with it. Backing up data used to be fairly time consuming and somewhat-complicated process, but now you have several cloud-based options that make this very easy. And the best part is, cloud-based storage services allow you to access your files from just about any Internet connected device.

Below is a short tutorial on how to create an account for Dropbox and begin uploading your data. Though there are many services like it, Dropbox is a great option for several reasons: you can create a basic account for free, the Dropbox team offers tremendous support to their users, they offer desktop apps for Windows and Mac, and they offer free mobile apps for Android and iOS devices so you can upload and manage your content on-the-go.

Start by going to www.dropbox.com and click the “Sign in” link in the upper right hand corner. Click the “Create an account” link on the bottom.

dropbox sign up

After you create an account, the Dropbox program will start downloading automatically. When it’s finished you should be all ready to go! If you want more than 2GB of storage space you can follow the steps under “Get Started” and get an additional GB of free storage space.

dropbox get started

Know that you only need to “Install Dropbox on your computer” (as shown above) if you want to upload files that are larger than 300MB. Otherwise, you can simply use their web interface to manage all of your uploading.


4) Change the Password(s) on Your Email Account(s)

Whether it’s email or Dropbox, it’s always a good idea to have several passwords that you cycle through throughout the year. The reason for this is simple: hackers. This strategy goes for social networks as well. For example, if you access your account on a public computer, the browser might cookie your username and password for the next person.

Try and make this a habit every couple months where you cycle passwords through your different accounts. If remembering passwords is a challenge for you, like it is for many of us, including yours truly, you might want to consider a password storage program like 1Password.

5) Introduce Your Little Ones to Social Networking the Right Way

The Internet is a world of its own, and it would be foolish to let our kids run around it without supervision and guidance. Introducing your child to the appropriate web games, websites and social networks is an important part of raising a responsible digital citizen. It’s too easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing, so sometimes we have to step back and realize that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr aren’t the only options available to our children; in fact, they really aren’t options for our children at all! That being said, it’s important to realize that there are social networks that were created with the safety and well-being of your child in mind, like Yoursphere.

Yoursphere, and sites that fall into the same category, offer kids the best of the Internet without forcing them to fork over private information about themselves. More importantly, Yoursphere allows kids to connect with other kids who have similar interests as them, all in an online environment that promotes positivity, creativity, individuality and fun. So do your research and check our Yoursphere with your child or young teen – they just might fall in love with it, and it’ll be all thanks to you.

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  • Excellent safety tips shared. The social networking suggestions in specific are well said as they address the fact that children do not belong on sites such a Instagram however, having sites such as Yoursphere are a step in the right direction. However, it does in some ways get children to start into the online sharing community at an earlier age with less worries, so it’s even more important that parents make children aware of dangers in “the real online world.” My question then is why do people blog and join social networking sites sharing information they would otherwise not share knowing the consequences are great?

    • Hi Jen:

      To answer your question, please blog and share information online they wouldn’t otherwise because they are not yet educated and aware of the true unhealthy/unsafe risks. Great question by the way!

      Mary Kay

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