To say my life is crazy busy is a massive understatement, especially these days with kids, schoolwork, my work, and juggling household tasks. Keeping up, let alone getting ahead, sometimes seems impossible. I have a phone, on which I run through my schedule, a tablet to keep the kids entertained, and my laptop to pull out when I have a spare moment to work. My purse is the size of a small suitcase and hauling it around is a real pain in my…shoulder.
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I remember as a student having an ‘understanding’ with the local magazine shop. Once the issues were out of date, the shop would send back the covers of unsold inventory for reimbursement and put the full issues minus the cover in the trash. You could say that as a student I was frugal, but I managed to find many wonderful articles in these ‘found’ magazines. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, right?
Well times have changed (thank goodness). Mobile and internet savvy folks can now get access to over 100 of the best magazines (and back issues!) with Next Issue Canada, a subsidiary of Rogers Publishing. For as low as $9.99 per month, you can receive unlimited access to over 100 of the world’s best magazines, including back issues. If you’re a magazine junkie, this is a huge savings, and we’d love your help spreading the word!
I just signed up for a FREE 30 day trial of Next Issue Canada to be used on my tablet and guess what I found? Sign Up for the Trial!
Disclosure: This is a sponsored article from Next Issue Canada. All opinions are our own.
Privacy is only a concept, and we all have different definitions of what our privacy means. The NSA has been proven to have one, which many citizens feel violates their rights. Facebook has an incredibly complex end-user agreement that changes faster than most people get their hair cut. Online privacy and security for your family have become one of the biggest concerns for our generation. Gary Kovacs, CEO of AVG Technologies points out that in the next 5 years another 2.5 billion people will connect to the internet, doubling the number of people online. As parents, we snap photos and instagram special times so that family members thousands of miles away can be closer to the moment. We tweet our thoughts, post photos to online albums and we’re excited to buy our mother-in law a computer so she can skype with the kids from afar.
But we have reached a turning point. We are now realizing that the content we put forth on the internet is not secure. We must think of the future reputation of our children as we post funny baby pictures. And even scarier? Bad people can cross reference information and find out exact locations and schedules of our kids.
I’m a trusting person. I recently attended a launch event for AVG, a company that provides (free) internet security for people across all platforms. I’m all for banking security and things, but as a parent I’ve been posting photos and names of my kids without worry. Really, what could happen? I spent a full day learning and had extensive opportunities to interview the executive team. The experience has changed my approach to online security. 15 million people currently run the free AVG ‘Do Not Track‘ program so they control who knows they are going on certain websites.
Did you know that hackers can put code onto your computer so that the ‘google-type’ ads you see on the sidebar are not run through Google at all? If you buy the product in the ad the hackers make money…. Did you know that when you plug your cellphone into a public charger, information from your phone may be collected and sold?… That In mobile, credit card hacking is much easier? The mobile app silently sends your credit card number and you will likely not notice a $3 charge on your bill next month.. That even though you might not use your children’s names on the internet, that a file with your last name and image of your son’s photo can be cross-referenced with his newspaper birth announcement? Bingo: the hacker now has a full name, image and (if data attached to the photo are present), a location. And you thought Hallowe’en horror movies were scary.
If you work off a PC, AVG offers an incredible new internet security program for 2014 that highlights protection, privacy and performance. I’m excited not only by the spy-like encryption and privacy, but the ability for the performance aspects to save my battery life so I’m not always seeking out a charger! The most secure option, it costs just under $60 and boasts a ton of features. There is also a free version if you are not dealing with sensitive information on your PC.
Highlights of AVG 2014:
– Anti-virus and anti-malware protection
– Online shield, which screens incoming links and files to make sure they are secure
– File Shredder, which permanently deletes sensitive information (it overwrites the files you want deleted)
– Data safe, which encrypts and stores your files for extra security. You can create ‘safes’ of sensitive information. Like when you don’t want your kids to see your tax documents.
– AVG Do Not Track, AVG Identity Protection, Anti-Spyware, and AVG WiFi Guard prevent spying and data theft
– Enhanced Firewall protects banking and credit card information
– AVG Turbo Scan, Game Mode, and AVG Smart Scanner enhance performance
– AVG Accelerator gives you faster video streaming. Yes please!!
For mobile (iOS, Windows and Android) AVG offers some of the following apps for each platform: image shrinker (smaller photos), tuneup, privacyfix, cleaner (clean up cached memory), uninstaller (removes little-used apps), family safety (protects kids from unsafe websites) and safe browser (avoids malicious sites). SIM Lock and Camera trap were added this year. If someone steals your phone it takes a photo of their face and sends it to authorities. Gotcha.
Here are the other tips I learned for keeping your family safe online:
1. Passwords should be a series of random words like ‘LakeCheeseSkirt’ to prevent people guessing. If you have to add a year, don’t make it your birthday, and for goodness sake, as an employer who has waded through piles of resumes, PLEASE don’t make firstname.lastname@example.org your email address.
2. Software like PrivacyFix should be running on all of your devices. It allows you to monitor all of the end user agreements for Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google + and programs that have access to your accounts so that you can control your own privacy to the degree that you feel comfortable. You can remove Facebook ‘friends’ from seeing all of your updates and regain control of your online profile. It’s interesting when you set it up that you are given your personal ‘worth’ as a dollar amount to each program. It starts to hit home that our information and the way we engage online has value to many players.
3. Turn off location settings when sharing photos, and also do not name the photos with your children’s names. Google will cross-reference names and locations and even if you name a photo Dave.jpg and your account is under your own last name, it will put the two together and your child can be recognized. 20% of kids now have an online profile before they are even born. I spoke to a colleague today and she warned that this can cause classism and repercussions for the rest of their lives. Before they are born. OMG.
4. Always register domain names for your kids so nobody else can take them. This is step 1 of reputation management. GoDaddy allows you to register www.kidsname.com and when they are older they will want to own it. It’s like a resume. You won’t want 4 axe murderers with the same name to appear in search results above your kids when they are interviewing for jobs. Employers will always Google and the ownership of their online reputation is a professional must. $10 per year is a drop in the bucket for reputation management (think of it as an RESP). You can set up a free wordpress site for them, but just owning the domain is enough.
5. While you are at it, register their names on twitter (and yours) and set up a google alert for all of your names. You will then know if any of you are ever mentioned on the web. (This works for exes and celebrities too. Just saying.)
6. Don’t allow your kids access to your work email account. They may send something by mistake or seek revenge during an angry episode, which could hinder your reputation with colleagues.
7. Never allow the kids to have the password to download apps on their devices. Many apps are free, but the in-app purchases than many kids don’t understand they are buying will set mom and dad up with a massive bill.
8. Make a rule in the house such as a ‘tech basket’ so during certain times like dinner or after school, the tablets and phones are put in one location for the entire family and personal interaction is necessitated.
9. Know passwords for your kids’ devices and keep them by your own bed at night. Check them often. One friend who hosted an exchange student disabled the internet at night so the student could not skype or go online.
10. Be very aware of end-user agreements. Some games meant for 6 year olds request access to location and other data and this is not necessary in the least. They are possibly preparing to sell the data such as location information although the actual game doesn’t need location information to run. Don’t let your kids play these seemingly innocuous games. Clicking ‘Accept’ at each step isn’t necessarily a great thing.
11. Change all passwords regularly.
12. Dump everything on your computer to an external hard drive. Photos, music, documents and emails. Trust us. You don’t want to lose any of your memories or records.
We interviewed AVG Technologies executives Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Chief Technology Officer and Tony Anscombe, Senior Security Evangelist about keeping our families and children safe online.
The important thing to remember about internet security, safety and privacy is that you should have the control to set different programs and applications at different levels. If it is overly complex, that is a bad sign. From what I learned, AVG provides a ton of value free of charge with extra options for people who require it. I am so grateful especially for PrivacyFix. I had no idea. And I’m a good mom. We all want to protect our kids no matter what and it’s pretty scary when we don’t even know they are at risk.
As a writer for the Tech Timeout Challenge by life insurance provider Foresters, I made a huge commitment as summer began. I set off to up the ante and do a full week without technology with the whole family. Over the summer, how hard could it be? It was hard. And I am embarrassed to say that we did not succeed. We lasted 3 days. But in the process we did accomplish the original intent of the program. We sat as a family for a minimum of an hour a day for the whole summer, talking, playing board games and playing in the sand. The art of balancing technology use as a parent proved far more challenging than I expected.
So half of me feels incredible – I bonded with the kids, we talked more as a family and I realized that taking away the tech from my kids wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. But the other half is ashamed. Is it society or the high standards I place on myself that make me feel like that? Not sure. Perhaps tasking myself with the elimination of tech while I run a tech business with little time off is unrealistic. Perhaps the tech is my security blanket that allows me to hide when necessary or collect my thoughts when I go through a difficult parenting situation. Using technology
As part of our tech timeout and summer plans, I took my boys on a train to Portland. My husband was away for three weeks climbing Kilimanjaro and I was having a magical time. I taught them Crazy 8’s and Old Maid. Upon arrival we went walkabout. In a generic corner grocery we stopped to collect fruit, chips (it was vacation) and water. But then my 7 year-old went down an aisle and there, at eye-level, were at least 15 different pornographic magazines. We all stopped in our tracks. He began to cry as the lady behind the counter yelled for him not to go down that aisle. I became the lioness mother, being strict with her for having no signage or warnings. We left and I didn’t know what to say.
So I turned to my ‘tribe’. Which happens to only be accessible online. I facebooked my son’s teacher to ask how to handle it. I reached out to another friend to vent. I texted my husband in Tanzania in hopes that he may be in a freakish serviceable area. And I put the boys to bed and held them tight and it became intensely apparent that the world we live in is a different one. It is a world where tech can and should be controlled, but I’m not sure it can be removed.
I was with a few ‘Big Bang Theory’ types this week and we all reached for our phones. One mentioned that his grandmother would be laughing at us texting, but he also said that our brief sojourn into the keyboards was for the purpose of extending out interactions, increasing the size of our village and working to bring more folks to join us in person. He had a point.
1. We’re on devices too much and unless there are limits we can slide into constant use.
2. My kids get riled up by tech, and yet when it’s gone for a time they don’t notice. They become more creative, role-play and use boredom to expand their horizons.
3. To ask of myself to give up all tech for a week was unrealistic given my job, and I realized that women often set the bar very high for ourselves and feel like failures if we don’t succeed. Moderation and instincts should be given preference.
4. Placing more importance on sitting around a table and playing actual ‘games’ and talking brought me back to childhood and gave the whole family pure joy. We’ll be sticking with the games and also making sure the technology never creeps into dinners or restaurants when we are bonding as a family.
5. Technology can be used to educate your kids and research their questions or find fun things to do in person with them.
Tech isn’t the devil. But it can also be useless and addictive. I think the real challenge as families is to use it for good – to broaden our village instead of shrinking it.
Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by life insurance provider Foresters, but the opinions and images are my own. For more information, visit www.techtimeout.com.