Does your favorite app make the grade?

pg angry birdsMoms with Apps asked parents what they considered the most important quality when choosing an app for their child. The number one quality “extremely important” to parents was does the app protect their child’s personal information. Protecting personal information ranked above both educational and age appropriate. How can you tell if the app your child wants protects their information?

It is not easy. In 2012, the FTC investigated mobile apps aimed at kids. After reviewing hundreds of apps for kids the FTC found little, if any, information about the data collection and sharing practices of these apps. In fact, one of the recommendations the FTC made was for companies to provide this information through simple and short disclosures or icons that are easy to find and understand. The website, PrivacyGrade, is trying to do just that.

pg instagramPrivacyGrade launched in November. Here, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have analyzed over 100,000 apps and assigned each a privacy grade. An app receives a grade from A to D depending on how well it discloses its privacy practices. Like an online report card, parents can look up why an app received a “D” or “A” grade.

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door lock

Guess my password game the 2014 edition

door lock

Guess my Password Game” was one of the first blog posts I wrote on Kids Privacy. I just finished reading an article about the top 10 passwords and discovered my kid had #4. Following the game, we had a little discussion on how setting a strong password for every account and on their phone is one of the best ways to keep information safe and secure. I think of it as teaching kids how to lock the front door. Passwords are the same. This is a kid’s first line defense to keep out identity thieves as well as mischievous friends.

Below are a few more helpful hints on passwords. And, if you want to play the password game, I have included the list of top 10 passwords for 2014.

4 Passwords Tips

  • Chunk it

I am taking a cybersecurity class online. Before taking this class, I thought my inability to memorize passwords had to do with my advancing age as well as far too many things to remember. Turns out it is not. The way our short-term memory is designed, we can generally only remember 3 – 4 pieces of information. This goes for kids as well as adults. So how does one set a strong password of 8 or more characters? Chunk it. Chunking is organizing a long password into meaningful pieces. An example would be using a date or initials divided by symbols such as AP&25*CL&18. This may look like a random series of letters, numbers and symbols but it is actually 4 pieces of memorable information.

  • Not one password to rule them all

I see kids using the same usernames across Twitter, Instagram, Vine and Tumblr. Yes, it makes it easy for their friends and classmates to find their accounts but it also ties together a lot of information. If they are using one super password, they are also making it a lot easier for friends or former friends to log in as them. Kids should not share passwords, but some do. By having only one password, they may have giving their bff access to all their social networks. Kids should keep their apps protected by using different passwords for every account. Periodically, remind your kid to change their password. Kids should not have the same password from 6th grade to senior year.

  • Answering incorrect is correct

This is one time where giving the wrong answer is right. Someone may try to break into an account by attempting to reset the password. Often resetting requires answering a security question. Unfortunately, kids and adults frequently have the answers to many security questions, such as “name of your dog”, on their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other networks. A good rule is to make the answer to the security question the incorrect answer. For example, kids can make the answer the opposite such as the name of their goldfish or a completely random word. The answer does not have to be right just something they will remember.

  • Don’t forget the Phone

When it comes to mobile devices, many of us leave our apps open all the time. There are several reasons for this: 1) It is a pain to log off and log in all the time and 2) it is usually near impossible to find a log out or sign off option on many apps. The only protection against someone picking up a kid’s phone and playing with all their apps is to set a password on the device. Even if it just a 4 digit pin code, kids can still make it difficult to guess their code by choosing 4 different numbers not in numerical order. Without a password, anyone who picks up their mobile phone or tablet can open up their Instagram or Twitter and pretend to be them.

For more Password Tips:

What are some good rules for screen names and passwords? by CommonSense Media

Password Safety & Security by iKeepSafe

Advice about Passwords by Kids & Media

 


2014 – Top 10 Most Common Passwords
123456
password
12345
12345678
qwerty
123456789
1234
baseball
dragon
football


Friday Rewind: Tips for managing media, apps and privacy

rewindThis week, I found 3 excellent articles filled with tips for parents on how to talk with kids and teens about media, apps and privacy.


Children, Teens, Media, and Body Image from Common Sense Media examines the role of media and technology in the development of kids’ and teens’ body image attitudes and behaviors. More than just discussing the problem, Common Sense Media offers ideas on how families can support positive images.

body image
CoPilot Family post in medium shares their 3-pronged method for guiding a child’s tech use. Their method clearly illustrates the importance of adopting a holistic approach when it comes to online safety.

copilot family
Finally, Family Online Safety Institute’s article on teen privacy suggests 6 ways parents can help teens protect their privacy online.

fosi digital parenting

2015

Make 2015 The Year of Internet Safety

Sponsored Post

dig citizen allianceThis holiday season, I was fortunate to have a chance to meet up with many old friends. We spent hours updating each other on our families and work. When I share what I do, I always got lots of questions as well as a few sheepish looks. Most of the questions were about what the biggest threats were online for kids and what parents should to protect their families. Our kids are growing up in a digital world. Parents love the amazing opportunities for their families but our worried about what else this world may bring into their homes.

Internet safety is definitely an area parents are struggling with right now. I find it is a combination of finding the time in an already busy schedule as well as knowing what to say to about privacy and security. Thankfully, many organizations are focusing on how to help parents keep their families safe and secure in the digital world. The Digital Citizens Alliance is one of these organizations.

To help understand what information parents need, the Digital Citizens Alliance, as part of their Digital Families Project, asked advocates, parents and families what concerned them most about online safety and respect. These results offered valuable insight into what issues mattered for families. Some of the interesting survey results were that:

  • The number-one concern for most (55%) was malware, spyware, and viruses.
  • The second biggest concern (roughly 20%) was illegal, illicit, or stolen content.
  • About 30% of people with children had concerns about their children’s safety online.
  • More than 50% had similar concerns for seniors.
  • 75% felt that identity theft is “extremely important.

I was not surprised the number one concern is security. In my household, I was a victim of identity theft. This past year, we have received 4 new credit cards due to data breaches. Even our kids were not immune. Last year, we talked with our teens about the Snapchat hack as well as the risks of downloading pirated music and movies.

Fortunately, families can take steps to increase their personal security. In the real world, we teach our kids how to lock the door before they leave, what to do if someone knocks on the door and who to call in case of emergencies. In the same way, kids need to learn to take these same steps online. We need to teach our kids to stay secure by always logging out, setting a strong password and keeping software updated.

Families can only do so much. Overcoming some of these problems will require the help of technology companies, like Google, Microsoft, and Apple. One of the priorities of the Digital Family Project is to encourage these companies to provide more safeguards. More security and privacy controls are needed in our kid’s favorite apps and devices. The results of the Digital Citizens Alliance survey indicate many families agree:

  • 19% said companies should “ban bad actors from profiting off of illegal or stolen content.”
  • 18% said companies should “better police sites for stolen content.”
  • 16% said companies should “ensure legitimate advertising doesn’t end up” on illegal content sites.

Without positive action by all of us, crime and dangers will continue to spread online. However, by working together, we can make the digital world safer for all of us. With the New Year upon us, it is a fantastic time to get yourself and your family ready to be safer online.

Here are some ideas to make 2015 the year of internet safety from the Digital Families Project.

  • Sign the Digital Citizens petition, calling for greater security and content respect online.
  • Visit the Digital Citizens website for information on online threats and tips on how to avoid them.
  • Discover tips and tricks from other parents from the Digital Citizens Twitter chat on December 17 co-hosted with 5MinutesforMom.
  • Like Digital Citizens on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to keep up with the latest on the Digital Families Project.

This blog post was sponsored by the Digital Citizens Alliance.

CSID_cyberSAFEBlogSeries-Backtoschool-01

Talking with Kids about Online Privacy Settings

CSID_cyberSAFEBlogSeries-Backtoschool-01Thank you to CSID for inviting KidsPrivacy to take part in their Back to School Campaign! In the rush to join a new social network, kids often don’t take the time to investigate settings. Many popular apps will allow kids to open private accounts or choose to make a post private. Below is a link to my article where I discuss the different privacy options available on popular apps. For more information on privacy settings, check out my page containing Parenting Guides for Popular Apps and Websites.

Need more tips? On Thursday at 11 am (PSD) log on to Twitter and follow #IDTheftChat where CSID and Private Wifi will be talking about wi-fi at school and how to protect your child’s personal information.

 


Talking with Kids about Online Privacy Settings

Backtoschool_082514This guest blog post is a part of our cyberSAFE blog series focusing on back-to-school security, privacy and identity topics. It comes from Anne Livingston, the founder of Kids Privacy, which provides parents with information and resources to teach kids to share smart and stay safe online. This fall, she is publishing her first book – Talking Digital: Tips and Scripts for Parents Raising Kids in a Digital World.

When I download a new app, I like to figure it all out first. I take my time, look through settings, and read reviews. My kids have a different approach. They just dive in. Often, this means moving as rapidly as they can, ignoring the settings to get to the fun part. But taking time to explore the settings is a critical piece to protecting privacy.

In the past, teens were able to rely on privacy through obscurity. With so much information online, most communications were lost in a sea of content. Technology is developing faster and better ways to search. Now, people can look for things online via an image or location. These public photos and posts are becoming easier to find. This visibility can lead to unintended audiences. Parents should talk with their kids and teens about the importance of limiting information.

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