Raising a ‘savvy cyber kid’ does not just happen. It takes involved parents – parents who are aware of their kids’ online activities and more than a few ‘tech talks’ before a child will begin to absorb the basic premises of cyber safety and cyber ethics.
After all, some of the lessons are abstract, especially online privacy. Just because you are alone in front of a computer screen, that does not mean that eyes, many sets of eyes, are not watching each move you take across the internet, tracking your interests and preferences, seeing where you have been physically and monetizing this data that you have freely given away. It’s up to parents to make their children aware of the inherent lack of privacy online.
Teach your young people how to essentially shut their room door to outsiders when they surf the web, use their phone or favorite apps – really, almost any kind of internet-enabled technology. Ask your child to imagine someone following them around all day, recording their stops, purchases and conversations that they had – and then forcing them to watch content based on these private moments.
Ask them how that would make them feel. I have not yet met a teenager who did not place a high value on privacy. The reality check that your child may think that what they are doing is private – when in fact it is not – may be eye-opening. The default of online activity is to unwittingly share data with marketers and more. Understanding this truth is the first step to creating personal online privacy.
Then, it’s up to you to control what happens to the privacy of your information—but only if you really want to. None of the solutions are easy, but they can help ensure your privacy.
The inclusion of the tools below is not an endorsement of their products, but information you can use to decide what may be best for your situation.
What web browser you use matters. While you can make any web browser more secure, it’s a lot of work, as you will have to review each update to see what you have to do to changes in privacy setting options. The Firefox browser by Mozilla is the exception. Unlike other for-profit browsers, who share data to gain company revenue, Mozilla is a non-profit company that is focused on meeting users’ needs. Their free software does not come with the catch that your online activity is tracked unless you disable those functionalities with each update.
Browser Extensons For Firefox
There are extensions that can be added to Mozilla Firefox that further improve privacy. If you don’t switch to Firefox, you can research similar extensions for your browser of choice (such as Chrome, Opera, etc.).
- Privacy Badger stops invisible trackers from following you around the web.
- Smart HTTPS creates encrypted connections with websites.
- uBlock Origin is an ad-blocker that has the added benefit of speeding up page load times.
- CanvasBlocker blocks APIs, apps designed to access your data on operating systems and apps.
- Smart Referer stops a site from know what site you came from, that referred you to their site.
Google tracks your searches and if you are looking for more privacy then you will need to choose a different search engine. Startpage and DuckDuckGo are options to consider.
Servers, Internet Service Providers And VPNs
When you enter a web address, your computer reaches out to a Domain Name Server (DNS) to get the computer-readable address of the page you are looking for (computers understand numbers, not letters). Many of these servers track your history. There are some that claim to be encrypted and secure, like Cloudflare, meaning that adjusting your computer’s network setting to always access a solution like this means more privacy. But this added security only goes so far as your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can still track your activities online.
To be more private, you will need to use a VPN, a virtual private network that extends a private network (such as your home network) across a public network (the internet). Want to secure the information you send and receive as it is transmitted online and stop the ISPs from accessing that info? Try NordVPN for computers and mobile devices.
Hopefully, after this tech talk, your teen will want to take control of their online privacy. It’s worth noting that your child will learn by example. Make sure that you are modeling security and privacy focused online behaviors, while teaching your child how to do the same.
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