Internet Safety: Taking care of your children 101

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Safe Browsing

Make sure your browser is set to offer you its built-in security and safety features. For example, Microsoft® Internet Explorer (the most popular browser) offers security and privacy settings. These are found under “Tools,” then “Internet Options.” Popular search engines such as Google also offer safety features. For example, Google’s SafeSearch is designed to screen sites that contain sexually explicit content and remove them from your search results. While no filter is 100 per cent accurate, SafeSearch helps you avoid content you may prefer not to see or would rather your children did not stumble across.

By default, Moderate SafeSearch is turned on, which helps keep explicit images out of your search results. If you prefer, you can change your setting to Strict filtering to help filter out explicit text as well as images. You can modify your computer’s SafeSearch settings by clicking on Search settings at the top right of the Google homepage. Norton Family can help you set and lock those safe search settings.


Digital Photos and Privacy

Many kids have cell phones that include a camera and many also have their own digital cameras. Talk to your children about the need to protect photographs online from strangers or even from peers who might use them inappropriately. You can track the sending of digital photos from the phone (just check your online or paper statement). Make sure your child shows you the photos on their phone so you can advise them about anything you deem risqué or not appropriate for sharing. If you are using photo-sharing sites, make sure you don’t allow others to use your photos, especially photos of people. There have been cases where photos on photo sharing sites were used in advertising without the subject’s permission.

Many cell phone and digital cameras tag photos with geo-location information. This allows you to figure out the location you were in when the photo was taken and might be handy to create a photomap of a drive across the country, or a hike to a remote waterfall. But as a default setting, it’s not a great idea to advertise your location with every image. Check the camera or phone settings to turn geo-location tagging off in your images. And if your child is using a social media driven geo-location service or checking into locations with their social network, talk about any privacy concerns this might raise.


Private Information and Identity Theft

Your children don’t automatically know what “private” information is, so you need to explain the concept that it’s any information that allows a stranger access to personal or financial information. Private information includes real world data like your name, telephone numbers, address, mother’s maiden name, sports club, school, even the name of a doctor. Bad guys can turn even a small clue into a full record on a child and parent, and they can trade and sell that private data to make money. It’s easy for bad guys to apply for credit in your child’s name and get real world merchandise and money, while ruining the child’s (or your) credit rating and good name.

If you do suspect you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you’ll want to monitor your credit report to look for evidence of new accounts or loans. You can request a credit report for a fee from credit reporting services like Equifax Canada®, Experian®, and TransUnion®. Once you find evidence of identity theft, you will need to report it to law enforcement, beginning with your local police station. You may also be able to put a “freeze” on your credit report. Another helpful resource is the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at

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