2015- A Relook at Cyber Parenting and Cyber Safety

Hello readers!  You know what I believe? I believe that a new year is another opportunity given to us to rectify errors, start afresh, explore new territories and do something we have always meant to do but never had the time or heart to do. It makes for new experiences, and make life more interesting, don’t you think?

As I concern myself primarily with cybersafety, my focus will be on the discovery of the new social media sites children have migrated to and safety issues concerning them. Social media is a revolution that is taking the world by storm and no one can remain immune to its attractions; certainly n not your tweens and teens.

The 2014 McAfee “Tweens, Teens & Technology Report” reveal some interesting data. The survey findings show that a substantial count of youth are online and enjoying it, with 66% of the youth stating they felt more comfortable on social media than in person. That’s quite a number, considering the count of tweens and teens as per the last census.

In addition, they looked up to social media approval to feel more accepted in their peer group. 72% wished they received more likes while 58% felt depressed if they didn’t receive as many likes as they would have liked.

I hear a loud, clear message from kids here. They need to be heard, they need to share and they need to feel appreciated and admired. True that they want the ears and appreciation of their peers mainly, but if we parents gave them our love, our undivided attention and REALLY listened to their views and angst, perhaps their state of happiness wouldn’t depend so much on the reactions of online friends?

Here’s something that happened to a sister-in-law of mine very recently. She went ballistic because she had misplaced her new smartphone and turned the house upside down looking for it, but in vain. Late that night her teenage son defiantly handed her the phone. She was thunderstruck, bereft of words!

He just said, “Today was a wonderful day. You actually listened to what I had to say, instead of mumbling something as you checked your WhatsApp messages. And we had such a lovely and long dinnertime conversation.”

She called me up to share this and I said, “You got the wake-up call. Better take note and ditch the phone when in the company of your son. He would love and respect you more for it.”

I had got my wake-up call in a restaurant while out on a family dinner. After placing orders, I couldn’t ignore the itch to check my messages quickly. I was brought back to reality by my daughter who said, “Mom! I don’t like it when you check your messages when we are supposed to be bonding as a family.” Whoa!! Whoa!! Whoa!!

Most children would usually not express their needs so clearly and slowly drift apart from parents. Don’t let that happen. Just like you have rules for smartphone use by your kids, have some for yourselves too.

More on social media platforms later. For now, let’s just hug our kids tight and give them all our love and attention. Stop.Think.Connect.  What better way to start the year?

Happy parenting in 2015!!!

Wishing all my readers a very happy new year! Stay curious, stay safe.

Time To Clean Out the Year’s Leftovers from Your Devices

Santa has come and gone and it’s slowly drawing towards that hour when you get down to the task of packing up of all your lighting and décor and putting them in storage as you reminiscence particular anecdotes associated with the ornaments.  At the end of all this, you may also throw away the broken pieces and defunct lights.

Speaking of de-cluttering, you may also need to do the same for your apps.

It so happens that you tend to download a lot of apps during the holidays. Starting from weather sites, maps, free music websites, free game apps, carol lyrics and karaoke, Christmas versions of different apps, e-card sites, Instagram pic collections, torchlight, photo editor…. and many, many more such apps that add spice to the holiday fun and make holidays fun and easier.

For instance, I download a whole lot of app on my smartphone whenever I am about to travel. Driving guide, nearby shopping & food joints, places of interest, everything to make my travel hassle-free and more fun. The family also downloads various books and movies that they want to catch up on; that is, if the hols include long drives or airport waits.

But all these apps take up   lot of space on your smartphone and clutter the memory. You might not be aware of this but several of them keep running in the background, even after you have exited them; thus eating up RAM and slowing down your device. Uninstall them,  rather than just closing. You will find that you have not just freed up space but also made your system work faster.

And if you have not done so already, it is the right time to install a reputed security software on your phone, infact on all the devices your family owns. This way, you can ensure that the New Year starts safely for you, your family and your devices.

And you can start dreaming about the next holiday you will take, with no issues like a slow device, or a hacked device to tar the beautiful memories of the latest one.

One word of caution though, every time you download an app, do make it a point to read the terms and conditions to find out what kind of access the app requires. Be suspicious of apps that require excess information. Download only from verified sources.

And PIN protect your phone.

Now if you have McAfee LiveSafe or McAfee Mobile Security installed on your devices, your SiteAdvisor would tell you if a site is unsafe or not. That eliminates 50% of the troubles. Also they prevent cookies from being downloaded and constantly check for malware so that you can have a safe cyber experience.

Have a happy New Year friends!