Summer is here, which means more sun and more fun for everyone. It also means more streaming, gaming, and downloading. This seasonal reality reminds us that to enjoy the best of summer, it’s important to stay aware of the digital risks that could sink the fun faster than you can say, “it’s hammock time!”
Summer Safety at Home
Emerging from the pandemic, we’re familiar with the increase in online time that came with remote learning. However, shift into summer means the remote learning hours will quickly turn into hours spent gaming, TikTok scrolling, and social networking. If you add summer travel plans to those activities, your family also becomes vulnerable to Wi-Fi breaches, viruses, sketchy apps, and device theft.
Suppose your family’s screen time rules became laxer this year. In that case, summer is the perfect time to start re-establishing healthy digital habits for gamer security, app security, and Wi-Fi security, be it at home or while traveling. Here are just a few tips to get you rolling.
At home safety tips
- Set digital priorities as a family. With the topsy-turvy year everyone’s endured, collaboration and flexibility will be important to setting digital priorities. As a family, consider: What online activities give your kids the most meaningful interaction? What fulfills their social needs? What engages their mind or creativity? How much time will you give online activities vs. outdoor or face-to-face activities?
- Note: All screen time is not created equal, which is why sitting down together to discuss priorities will help create a summer media plan everyone can get behind. Every family’s screen time plan will look different, so determine what matters to your family and adjust as the summer progresses. If you are a working parent this summer, you might consider parental controls to support your summer screen time goals.
- Stay alert to scams. Long summer days can slowly morph into the summer lazies — attitudes, sleep schedules, and other routines can slowly slip. However, it’s no time to let your digital guard down. Help your family keep scams and bad actors on their radar; since both will find ways to exploit kids online. Coronavirus scams, travel scams, and social scams are everywhere. Meet that threat with consistent dialogue with your family and antivirus software.
- Guard against strangers and cyberbullies. Strangers understand that kids spend more time online in the summer months and are out in full force. Also, long summer days and increased boredom create a fruitful environment for cyberbullies. Candidly discuss with your kids the risk of connecting with strangers online and engaging with cyberbullies. Be sure they know where to report inappropriate behavior.
Study: More Connected, Less Secure
According to a recent McAfee study 2021 Consumer Security Mindset: Travel Edition, 2 out of 3 Americans plan to travel this summer. However, the study also highlighted a troubling discrepancy: while 68% of Americans confirm they are more digitally connected since the onset of COVID-19, only about half of them have implemented additional levels of internet security.
Chances are someone in your immediate family — perhaps an elderly relative or a younger child — is among those who are more connected since COVID-19 but less secure as they head into the summer months. One way to close that gap is to educate and share family internet security tips. Here are just a few.
On-the-Go Summer Safety Tips
- Connect with caution. Be cautious when connecting to public Wi-Fi while on vacation and ensuring the Wi-Fi is secure and attached to a trusted source. Ensure that you don’t conduct any financial transactions or share any personal details while on public Wi-Fi.
- Consider a holistic security solution. Understand what tools are available to you to give you peace of mind that your identity and personal information across all devices are safeguarded this summer travel season.
- Update your software. Before you travel, check for any software updates on your devices. Updates often fix security bugs and seal up cracks in the system.
- Keep devices protected and close. Distracted vacationers are the perfect target for thieves looking to steal devices- be it a phone, laptop, tablet, or gaming device. Ensure accounts have multi-factor authentication to double-check digital users’ authenticity if the device gets into the wrong hands.
This summer can unfold seamlessly and be packed with unforgettable family memories. Or, it could be a season you’d rather forget if you wander into a digital danger zone. Remember: Your family’s privacy is as strong as your weakest family member’s security IQ. One vulnerable person exposes the data and security of everyone under your roof. So, taking the time to build up your family’s internet security is a big step in bummer-proofing your summer. Here’s to fun, sunny, safe days ahead!
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