Netiquette for digital natives

The youngest members of the family might seem the most informed on today’s tech – but that’s not always the case.

Preparing the next generation for everything, even deterring cyber criminals or tracking down lost devices, is still the responsibility of older generations. These tips can help shield young people from online danger.

Assign a “kid computer”

For younger family members, assigning separate devices to each user may lessen the risk of potentially exposing sensitive information. One IT recommendation is keeping a device solely devoted to accessing banking and other private information separate from a device used for social media apps, games and the like. This is also an opportunity to allow young internet denizens to make mistakes and learn from them without compromising your important information or frying and damaging a vital hard drive.

Teach positive online practices

Instead of installing “childproofing” apps to monitor online activity, consider teaching the importance of safe cyber-practices. The “Google Family” page is a wealth of information with its “Be Internet Awesome” resources. Here, you can find internet safety conversation starters for all ages and games like “Interland” that guide young users in spotting safety and security risks in places like “Reality River” and “Mindful Mountain.”

Track and protect what’s precious

Device tracking can help locate wandering phones, tablets, laptops and even AirPods in case they are misplaced or stolen. Activate the “Find My” app on Apple devices or “Find My Device” on Androids. Purchasing physical GPS tracking tags and placing them on non-digital items is another great way to keep track of precious cargo.

Even more important is personal safety. In case of an emergency, make sure your children know how to use the emergency SOS function and assign emergency contacts. For iPhones, this can be done in the “Health” app’s Medical ID section or in “Contacts” if you choose the “Add to Emergency Contacts” button. For Android users, you can add emergency information as text on the lock screen or in the “Personal Safety” app.

Protecting yourself from fraud

Many people every year are affected by online and email scams. Don’t allow yourself to fall victim to these preventable crimes.

It takes two

IT experts recommend using two-factor authentication to verify requests for changes in account information or password logins. These systems send a code to your smartphone or other devices to verify your identity. Secure your email by providing a phone number or backup email account. To simplify authentication even further, enable biometrics, such as face recognition or your fingerprint on your devices.

Use the “zero trust” approach

In cybersecurity, this model’s motto is to “never trust and always verify.” This often means becoming an internet detective and taking extra time before responding to strange-looking texts or emails. Ensure the URL in any communication is associated with the business or individual it claims to be from and note if hyperlinks or the message contain misspellings. Refrain from supplying any login credentials and verify the email address used to send the communication by looking at your contacts first to see if it matches up. Be sure to monitor your personal financial accounts on a regular basis for anomalies like charges from unknown sources.

Learn when to unplug

Even the volunteer IT person needs some rest. Step away from your devices by setting up the “Do Not Disturb” function. Apple users can use “Focus” and Androids can use “Do Not Disturb” settings to choose certain people or apps that can still notify you when everything else is silenced. You can also use Apple’s “Screentime” app as well as Android’s “Digital Wellbeing” tools to limit time on more addictive games and social media scrolling.


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