Conversations about internet privacy and security have been in the news a lot lately. Questions about who has the right to track you on your smartphone and who doesn’t. Terms and agreements that don’t really help you understand how companies use your information once they’ve gained if from your device usage. Below are three common terms that will help you walk through the minefield that is internet security and privacy. Learn what these terms mean so that you can make the right choices for your child’s online safety as well.
Location Based Services
Services that are based on or enhanced by information about the physical location of a user and their device. Apps like Google Maps use location based services to give you directions or show you the nearest coffee shop. Apps that track devices use location based services as well.
What Parents Should Know
My advice is to not use location services on your minor’s phone. It’s just too easy for photos and posts to be tagged with their whereabouts, allowing anyone to keep track of where your kids spend their time. The ramifications of this can be pretty terrible. If you use an app to keep track of your kids’ location then you’ll have to have LBS turned on. I then recommend that you go in to each individual app (especially social media) and turn off location services. You don’t want a stranger (or even that annoying 15 year old boy) seeing where your daughter hangs out all the time so he can meet her there. You’re not being overprotective, you’re being smart.
Browsers are software that allow users to view sites on the internet. There are several popular browsers. The most common are Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, or Firefox. Every popular device includes at least a base browser built into its operating system.
Some of the most basic phones may have browsers that can only view sites designed for mobile browsers but most content is now “responsive,” which means they change size and design in order to fit whatever screen the site may be viewed on.
What Parents Should Know
A browser is how your child can connect to anything on the World Wide Web. This is how content you are wanting to protect them from can easily get to them. Internet filters and accountability software were designed to look at the websites on a browser and block or report inappropriate content. Some of these filters work within a special browser that you must install. This means you should keep an eye out to not allow the installation of any other browsers on your kids device. If they install a different browser then there is no guarantee it will be filtered or that it will report to you any inappropriate content.
User Generated Content
UGC is defined as “any form of content such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, posts, chats, tweets, podcasts, digital images, video, audio files, advertisements and other forms of media that was created by users of an online system or service, often made available via social media websites”. (webopedia.com) UGC is also often called user-created content (UCC).
What Parents Should Know
The thing to remember about UGC or UCC is that since it’s created by users, it can’t be trusted to be accurate, safe, or wholesome. The recent political season gave proof to the theory that UGC is a hotbed of inaccurate news reports, opinions posing as facts, and straight up hate speech being broadcast publicly online. Not only is false information a concern with content that is user generated but this is what has caused bullying to increase over the past few years. Since the people using these softwares can post whatever they’d like, they can post whatever they want to say about those they don’t like. This means they are getting to their victims in new and more unprecedented ways. With no “middle man” to edit content before it becomes public, we have to step in and play that role for our kids. We must protect them from misinformation, inappropriate posts, and harmful words that are sent across the web whether they’re accurate or not.
Privacy and security goes way beyond whether or not the government can see who you’re sending text messages too. While that is absolutely an issue, this concept hits much closer to home as well. I recommend keeping an eye on your child’s location settings and the installation of browsers and other software. Make sure they are mature enough to handle social media, forums, and blogs where content can be posted by anyone with half a mind and a keyboard. If you don’t feel the are mature enough then don’t let them open an account. No matter how much they beg. There is a lot that can get to our kids. Parents are their fist line of defense, if something bad were to happen we couldn’t blame anyone but ourselves if we aren’t currently taking the steps necessary to protect our children from these privacy and security dangers.
Check in tomorrow for our final post in the Mobile Device Vocabulary series, the topic is Gaming Part 2!