security phone

5 Ways to Protect your Kid’s Phone

Privacy and security go hand in hand. This is especially true with a kid’s mobile phone. Their phone contains lots of personal information that anyone who has access to it can see. In order to keep their information private, kids need to keep their device secure. With kids, the two big security issues are losing their phone or downloading a bad app.

According to Lookout, 30 billion phones are lost a year. In Seattle, we lose our phones on average twice a year. So far, my kids have not lost of device although one did go through the washer and dryer. But, at some point someone is going to lose a phone. Anyone who finds their phone will have access to their information such as contacts, pictures and messages as well as their open accounts such as Twitter, or Facebook.

The other threat kids may encounter is downloading a bad app. A report by McAfee found 1 in 6 mobile apps contain malware or spyware. Kids who love to download apps may end up with one of these characters. These malicious apps can do anything from sending annoying pop up ads to stealing personal information.

To protect privacy, make sure your kids are implementing these simple security tips. Continue reading


Protect Privacy by Blurring Faces in a Photo or Video

For many families the start of school also means the start of fall sports. At most games, parents are on the sidelines shooting videos or taking pictures. Often these shots include not just their child but faces of other kids as well. Before sharing online, people should ask permission. But in a photo or video containing so many faces, this is an impossible task. Thankfully, technology has come to the rescue.

For pictures, I use Obscuracam. Obscuracam is an app developed by the Guardian Project. The Guardian Project originally envisioned this tool to protect human rights activists. It is also works for parents who want to protect the identity of their kids or friends online. As an added bonus, Obscuracam removes all identifying metadata from the photo, including location.

This app is quick and easy to use. First, it highlights the faces in the photo. But if it misses a face, you can simply tap on the missed face to select it. For fun instead of pixalating or redacting faces, you can add a groucho mask.

Obscuracam also has a video option. I tried this app on one of my videos. Unfortunately, it did not work for me. Reading through the comments in Google Play, I am not alone in having trouble with video. Obscuracam is only in its first release, hopefully later versions improve the video option.

Continue reading


New school year, new phone: how to wipe the old one

We recently upgraded all of our phones. I knew it was time to divorce my G1 when my friends were making fun of me. Now, we are trying to figure out what to do with the old phones. Before moving them along, we need to remove all of our information such as emails, contacts, pictures, videos etc.

I thought simply removing the SIM card would remove most of this information. This may work on older phones, but not on smartphones. When I removed the SIM card from my G1, my email was gone but not my contact list, my pictures or my videos. The only real change was an initial alert “no sim card”.

I found out smartphones store information in two places: on a SIM card and the phone’s internal memory. I needed to remove the SIM card as well as erase the internal memory. Erasing the memory required resetting the phone back to its original fresh out the box factory settings.


Removing all internal information from an Android phone, such as a G1, is a two-step process. First, I went to Settings and chose “SD Card and Phone Storage”. Then, I selected “unmount SD card”, followed by, “format SD card”. For the next step I went back to the main settings menu and this time after I selected “SD Card and Phone Storage”, I chose “factory data reset”.  For other Android phones, the factory data reset is in the “Settings” menu under “Privacy”. Android phones vary slightly but the factory reset is usually somewhere in “Settings”.


My kids are usually willing to help me with this blog. This time, I had no volunteers for letting mommy erase and restore their iPods. According to Apple, it is quite easy. To restore factory settings on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, go to the settings menu, select General then select Reset and choose “Erase All Content and Settings”.  That’s it. This may take a while so Apple recommends fully charging the device before starting.

REMEMBER: Before wiping the memory transfer all information you want to keep such as pictures and videos to your computer.