Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Oct. 1, 2012

Seven Tips to Keep You Safe Online

Internet Safety Advocate, Symantec Corporation

1. Password safety!: Create a complex and unique password for your social network. Don’t share it with anyone. If you've already shared it with someone, login and change it! If you can register more than one email address to the account, do that too. This can come in handy if your account is ever hacked, giving you another way to recover the account from the hacker. Click the image below for 10 tips on password safety.

GDP Blog Marian Merritt slideshow

2. Private matters: Take the steps to look at your social network account’s privacy settings. Start out by selecting the greatest control, and limit access to your profile, photos, videos, and postings to Friends only. You can double check how your profile appears to a stranger by visiting your Timeline and clicking the gear icon. The default setting on Facebook for minors, for example, is Friends of Friends, a potential audience of many thousands of people you don’t know at all. Reconsider using location-based services if not necessary. Of course, you can turn GPS back on whenever you need to use map apps and other helpful tools.

3. Choose Applications carefully: Each application (games, surveys, quizzes and contests) is made differently but all get some level of access to your private information. Read the agreement before clicking “Accept”. The manufacturer of your application may have rights you wouldn’t want to allow, such as getting your friend list. If you’ve accepted questionable applications in the past, you can remove or edit their rights in your Account Settings.

4. Beware Unknown Links: There has been a big increase in dangerous phishing efforts through social networks using malicious techniques like click-jacking. Often they spread by infecting one account and post links to dangerous websites with tempting phrases like “This is the funniest video EVER!” Run the free Norton Safe Web application on Facebook to check any links before you click. And be suspicious of posts from friends that just seem out of character.

5. Select Your Friends Carefully: On a social network, your friends’ list is your most valuable asset. In the 2012 Norton Cybercrime Report, 35% of online adults say they accept Friend Requests from strangers. Bad idea! Remove anyone you don’t know to avoid danger from their online mistakes. Who should be your online friend? Someone you have real world interactions with, not just the people your social network recommends because you know someone in common. Friends are also not people who are fellow members of an online group or someone looking for new people to talk to. It’s simply not worth the risk. And please “friend” your parents.

6. Post for Permanency: What you post to your social network may stick around for a while, even if you change your mind and remove it later. Photos and videos can be saved, comments can be forwarded. If you are at all concerned about what might turn up in a web search sometime in the future by a potential employer or college admissions office, just post those items unlikely to cause someone to judge you negatively . That doesn’t mean you need to shed all bits of your personality. Rather, be mindful of what you post and the relative risk and reward it may have.

7. Be Kind Online: Let your online activities be an example to others and try to avoid using the sort of negative comments, hurtful language or embarrassing posts that can be painful to the target. Remember the Golden Rule and strive to avoid anything that might be considered cyber bullying. And continue visiting and learning with Platform for Good and the Family Online Safety Institute.