Cross Cultural workers were early adopters of the internet and social media. Both have helped us in so many ways that we can’t imagine our life and work without them. In fact, some of my readers may have no memory of the days of blue airgrams, one-month turnaround times for mail, or overseas calls that cost a lot for very little time.
But that was yesterday. Today, though we don’t live close to our family, friends, and supporters at home, we have the freedom and instant connectivity that the internet has provided us.
Even so, with every freedom, there are dangers. So, in this issue, I will give you links to some of the best information I have found for internet security for you and your children. You may know about some of these tools, and perhaps use them, but it’s always good to do a checkup and update, if needed.Many of you probably already use a VPN – Virtual Private Network. These hide your activity on the web- coding your information as it travels from your computer to the destination computer. If you don’t have one, and would like more information from those overseas who use them see: Brigada’s April 2017 post.
We hear daily warnings about spam and scams. But it doesn’t hurt to have a reminder. If you don’t recognize the sender and the subject line looks suspicious, don’t open it. Most email programs allow you to scan the first few lines without downloading it. Mark it as spam and delete it. Never reply to these emails and never download anything from them. This helps you avoid getting a virus on your computer. Even if the email is from a friend, but the text wants you to click on a link or reply to another address, do not do it! Write your friend and let them know you got a strange email from them, their address book probably got hacked. Read a good guide in avoiding online scams.
Identity Theft is a threat to anyone who uses the internet, but we may not be aware of all the ways this can happen. As adults we watch our wallet and credit cards when we are away from home. We know to not give our personal information over the phone unless we are sure of who we are talking to. We know to use passwords that are hard to guess. And the list goes on. But do your children know all the rules? SecureThoughts.com has a very helpful article on how to teach your kids online safety. It is well worth your time to read.
Social Media provides wonderful ways to keep in touch with friends and supporters who may be spread all over the world. Did you know there are wonderful sites our children can use to make and keep friends in other places? But social media is still one of the major threats for identity theft and for predators to use. Comparitech.com has step-by-step directions on how to secure many of the most popular social media sites, browsers, and devices. You can find security settings on most of these sites, but may need some help to understand whether you should allow or block certain settings.
This is a good basic guide on setting Computer House Rules . You can read the full article at: Internet Safety: How to Keep Kids and Teens Safe Online.
Smart Phones are another great help to us, and also a great danger. TigerMobiles.com has an up-dated guide to help protect your children on their smartphones. We never would have guessed a few years ago that our young children would have a phone of their own, especially one that does so many things. But so many children do use them. If your children have a smart phone, please take the time and effort to secure it. Much of the information is the same as for computer safety, but the settings may be different.
All of these links are current, easy to use articles and sites. Be aware that the internet changes all the time. My son, a web developer, says that building web sites is like building sand castles. They look good now, but the next wave can damage or wash them away. Pay attention to trends and new apps. Staying informed is the best way to stay safe.
If you do not already receive Brigada, I would encourage you to subscribe. They send weekly updates on all kinds of things interesting to overseas workers. They really keep up-to-date on tech information. Their site is searchable too. You can subscribe or search from Brigada.org
We are not to be so fearful and overly cautious that we isolate ourselves in a virtual fortress, but we should not take unnecessary risks. We invite the internet and media into our homes. And just as we are careful about who we invite in, we should be careful about what we invite in. We are sent out as sheep among wolves, so we must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. (Matt 10:16)
As always, I would love to hear from you. If you have questions or comments, please email: Diane@peterswife.org