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Why Should You Care about Internet Privacy?

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

This content was provided by our partner, TechWarn and I am being compensated in the form of a VPN subscription to protect my family.

Why should you care about internet privacy?

Even as parents, we rarely pay attention to the ‘terms and conditions’ before logging into an app for the first time, how could we expect our children to practice digital privacy? But practice they must.

Today we live in a world of zero privacy. Social media behemoths take advantage of our innate desire to connect, turning platforms into mega data centers to ruthlessly monetizing our personal lives. Sadly, they don’t seem to be particularly cautious with our sensitive information either, as a security breach late last year reported a hack affecting nearly 30 million users.

If your children are on social media or are regular internet users, understand the risks involved to help them steer clear of privacy breaches and their accompanying risks.

Your privacy is always at stake

The devil is always in the details. Buried deep inside the service terms are often invasive clauses claiming to collect, access, stored and analyze your data ‘for an improved experience’. Opting to keep private info private, and you will be forced to quit the app or leave the platform, leaving you with no choice but to oblige.

What’s rather unfortunate is the fact that we do not have any control over what the companies choose to do with the data they access. There have been numerous cases of accounts hacking, impersonation and other cyber-crimes. Even with these happenings, we keep signing in into mobile phone applications, programs and software, and subscribing to websites without giving much care to the security concerns.

Your data is sold, but you won’t get a penny for it

As the old saying goes, free things are expensive. The paradox in this statement continues being evidenced in the online platforms that claim to be ‘free’ but end up making billions of money by selling out your personal data to advertisers. It’s how Facebook and Twitter make money anyway. How else do you think that you have your timeline hit with adverts of items, products, or services you recently discussed?

Each time you log in to the ever-emerging web platforms, you are providing them with your information and to advertisers; this is a badly needed necessity. The only way to limit how much information and private data these services will be getting from you is by checking your internet privacy.

Technology evolution leads us to be more reliant on the internet

Just like the internet, IT gadgets are going through a major evolution. Newer and sophisticated gadgets are released on a regular basis. Communication is taking a shift, you do not necessarily need to load your mobile phone with airtime; with an internet connection, you are able to make a call online.

Think of the host of websites that allow you stream sports, music and more. We are slowly but steadily bidding goodbye to the old-fashioned computerized gadgets and embracing highly advanced ones.

Smooth operations of these devices require an internet connection. For instance, smartphones require regular software updates. With this level of reliance on the internet, it is important that one puts up reliable privacy protection measures in place.

If stolen, your current private data could haunt your future

Some people rubbish the need to have internet privacy measures in place, claiming they have got nothing to hide. Which is okay; but this may not last for long. When companies access your data (let’s say private and confidential information like call logs or messages content), you have no control over what they might choose to do with them.

Without huge aspirations at the moment, this may not seem much of a concern. But if someone wishes to bring you down in the future, they can use skeletons from your private data that was stored by some company 5 or 10 years ago. Past conversations exposed are on record for bringing down marriages, tainting people’s integrity among other damages. Many internet activities define your private life, browse safely lest the information falls on the wrong hands and ends up being used against you.

The law will not protect you

Due to the rising cases of cyber-related crimes, some countries are developing and enforcing laws in support of internet surveillance. While this might be a good effort and may help trace the criminals bullying people online, it is not right for your privacy.

When a government gains access to your communication threads, the sites you are visiting, the people you are networking with and such information without your approval, then it’s interfering with your personal privacy. Unfortunately, many countries continue embracing this trend, especially on visitors and tourists.

You may not have direct control over what the lawmakers of a certain nation think. Fortunately, there are different avenues through which you can shield your internet privacy.

Fraudsters, hackers, and cybercriminals are upping their game

There are many techniques that fraudsters can use to access or gather your online information. Your internet service provider may not warn you of the possible dangers after all high-speed connections are what most of us are concerned about.

If your privacy settings are not customized to limit who can access information about you, fraudsters can easily tell who you are by monitoring your activities on these sites. This is especially so with social interaction sites where we like to upload our photos, update our activities and so on. Others use malicious software known as spyware. The software is able to track and hack your personal information without your knowledge. The developers of such malicious software target unsuspecting internet users and thus the need to care about your privacy whenever you are on the internet.

Ways to protect your internet privacy

The ways through which your private data can be tracked or accessed are multiplying by the day. Here are ways through which you can protect your personal data while on the internet.

Keep your software updated

Doing this can greatly reduce unauthorized access to your data. Keeping your software updated makes sure your system is shielded from even the most recent malware.

Update your privacy settings

This is necessary especially when it comes to social networking platforms. By default, most of the information you upload or post will be shared publicly. Consider changing your settings to limit views to only fewer people or to only share with people you know. To achieve higher efficiency, it’s advisable to ask your friends to do the same.

Block 3rd party cookies

Accepting cookies allows websites to maintain track of you. For instance, they can be able to tell the last time you visited. Others will be able to store your data and even sign you in automatically during your next visit. Blocking cookies limits access should anyone else access your device without your knowledge.

Clear browser history and delete cookies regularly

This helps log you out of all accounts that you may have signed in on the browser.

Get a VPN app

A virtual private network encrypts all the data you receive or send via the internet. With this encryption, third parties cannot access data and even if they do, they cannot be able to use it or trace it back to you.

Privacy and security are well worth your time and money. VPN deals are just a Google search away so there’s no excuse of not going playing your part to safeguard your data. With a VPN in place, your data will always be protected whenever you are using the internet.

Categories
Parenting

The Perils of Childhood – What’s Changed?

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

The perils of childhood have changed. The safety of my kids has always been my top priority. As moms, we do the best we can with the information that we have. Of course, that information changes with every generation. What we thought we knew ten years ago is vastly different from what we “know” now. Still, I wonder at what point is too much, even in the efforts to keep our children safe.

Car seats didn’t always exist.

When I was little, I would sit in the back seat, no seat belt, and hold onto my little sister as she lay flat in the back seat, not secured by anything but my hand. Now, car seats are legally required and involve heavy safety standards, including being rear-facing until at least two in many states. Each car seat comes with an expiration date, and some experts recommend that children should be rear-facing until age four. That is a far cry with how I grew up and somehow survived. Today, you aren’t even allowed to leave the hospital without staff checking to make sure a car seat is properly installed in your vehicle. I was sent home in my mother’s arms, and honestly, even she probably wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

There were no diet rules for pregnancy.

My mom smoked while pregnant. She had a drink now and then, too. And she consumed coffee by the gallon – sweetened with saccharin no less. Now, you can’t even have a deli sandwich (meats have nitrates) without someone having a hemorrhage. No fish, no uncooked meats, and not even soda or too much coffee are allowed in a pregnant woman’s diet. New information is certainly helpful, but some of the restrictions seem ridiculous when listeria outbreaks are rampant in vegetables these days.

Kids ate whatever was served.

I distinctly remember eating pop-tarts covered in butter for breakfast, along with other wildly unhealthy choices. Gravy, sour cream, full fat everything. All. the. time. Now, there is an entire army of moms insisting that anything with GMOs or artificial flavors is detrimental to your child. There’s a whole generation of kids being raised on tofu and almond milk. It’s not even milk! It’s not even almond! It’s just white water.

Honestly, even if your kids were raised eating organic lentil bean soup with steamed tofu and my kids eat dinosaur nuggets, they both probably ate dirt and boogers. I don’t recommend smoking during pregnancy, or alcohol, but if your kid eats the occasional hotdog, they’ll probably survive.

What are considered the perils of childhood, such as unsecured car seats and processed foods, would have been laughed at when I was a child. Am I grateful that I was able to secure my own children in safe seats in a moving vehicle? Definitely. But rather than get myself in knots over what my kids eat, I have simply tried to raise healthy and safe kids, who understand moderation and learn balance.

Categories
Kid Safety Pregnancy and Your Newborn Toddlers

Make Home Safe for Baby

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

It’s somewhat ironic, in my mind, that as my youngest child is talking about college choices and making requests for her 15th birthday that I’m writing about home safety for babies…but it’s for a delightful reason: my beautiful 15-month old granddaughter and her parents live with us. We have a big, old rambling house that would feel impossibly quiet were it not for the twist of fate that has allowed for the pitter patter of little feet long after I could handle being a new mom again.

But now that we have a very curious, exploring toddler in the house, we’re reminded of how many places are safety issues. If you really want to make your home is safe, I recommend getting down on your hands and knees and crawling around – it’s an interesting perspective shift and makes it easy to see what might attract the curiosity of a young wanderer.

Put It Out of Reach

The easiest way to start baby proofing is to simply move anything you don’t want the baby to get her hands on out of reach. Higher shelves, locking cabinets, and out-of-the-way cupboards work for keeping little fingers from getting her hands on things she shouldn’t. Use bolts to attach any high chests or tables to the wall to prevent them from tipping over.

Make It Hard to Get To

From putting the little plastic covers in all of your outlets to installing a gate around your radiator (we have boiler heat with steam radiators that will scald little hands), make it impossible for baby to get to the things that cause danger. There are several quick and easy fixes you can do to make your house baby-safe: tie the cords on window blinds up and out of the grasp of small hands, move furniture away from windows (especially in the nursery) and buy a baby gate (or several), especially if you have a staircase.

Buy with Caution

New car seats are safer than used, and make sure the toys you buy aren’t imported from China. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sends out a routine e-mail listing recalled products, and you can add yourself to the distribution list at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx or visit their Web site at http://www.recalls.gov/ to check out specific items you have questions about.

Create Safe Zones

Your baby will need freedom to explore, so make sure there are spaces where she can wander and touch. Put locks on doors with rooms full of potential hazards, like offices, storerooms or garages – and use those locks. For Hallie, we bought a “baby jail” – a wonderful safe place where she could explore, and also a place where mom or dad could put her down for a minute without worrying what she would get into. It’s actually called a KidZone Baby Playpen, but “baby jail” was way more fun.

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Water Safety

Whether it’s bath time or play time in the baby pool, never leave your child unattended in the water.

NEVER LEAVE YOUR CHILD UNATTENDED IN THE WATER.

No really.

Never.

Bathtime is the time for parents to be absolutely single-minded. No phones. No distractions. Be at the side of the tub at all times. Forget something? Bummer. Have someone else get it or live without it. Do all the other safety stuff – make sure the temperature is right and use safe products – but the most important thing you can do to keep baby safe is never even look away when they’re in the tub.

Having a baby in the house again is so much fun – especially since this time, I can hand her over to mom and dad when I’m tired, and I never have to get up in the middle of the night.

Make home safe for baby so you can relax and enjoy the experience.