What’s The Best Way To Keep Your Family Life Private Online?

If you’re anything like me then sites like Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn feature highly in your daily browsing history. It’s great to be able to create photo albums, have a laugh and network with colleagues at the click of a button. Sharing experiences has never been easier.

But there’s a downside to all this connectivity; the loss of personal privacy. The more we share online, the harder it can be to keep secrets. These days it’s becoming more important than ever to keep family life private. Here are a few tips to help ensure you’re not over sharing online.

Download apps and software that help to keep you safe

Ever wondered why you suddenly see ads in your sidebar for things you’ve searched for recently, even after you’ve bought and paid for them? That’s because much of what we do online is tracked and recorded.

Luckily there are apps and software that can help track who’s watching you and help provide an extra level of security. AVG’s PrivacyFix, for example, ensures that your Google, Facebook and LinkedIn settings are secure, as well as blocking over 1,200 trackers from seeing what you’re up to online. You can also find out who’s holding your personal data and request that they delete it.

Teach your kids how to stay safe online

When it comes to online security, protecting your kids is vital. However, as many of our kids are more web-savvy than we are, this may sound like a daunting task. Fortunately there is plenty of advice for parents out there.

Whatever age your child is, some of the key tips for parents include:

  • Talking to your child about what they do online. Just as you’d discuss how their day at school went, it’s important to show an interest in and understand what they’re doing online.
  • Using parental controls to set boundaries for them. They’re usually fairly easy to install and give you peace of mind that the content they are accessing is suitable.
  • Discussing the dangers of talking to strangers online. Just as you’d remind your children to be wary of strangers in the street, the same applies to people they meet online. Remind them that not everyone is who they say they are.

Make social media less social

Sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are great ways to make friends and share experiences, but there are downsides to having a large group of friends or followers online. Whilst most people you’ll connect with are genuine, there are always a few rotten apples that spoil the experience.

Trolls and phishers are two groups of people to watch out for. Named after ugly cave-dwelling creatures, trolls are people who purposely upset you or create arguments online. They could be that stranger who comments on your blog post, or even an old friend from school who’s on Facebook. Trolls are best ignored, so if one targets you, block and report them.

Whilst trolls are unpleasant, phishers are more dangerous as they pretend to strike up a friendship, whilst using psychological techniques to get you to disclose information that can help them to steal your identity. Be wary of people who ask questions that seem too personal, especially if you don’t know them.

To help keep social media safer try following these tips:

  • Don’t tie your social media accounts together. Keep them separate so it’s harder to put together a bigger picture of who you are.
  • Upgrade your privacy settings so that only people you know (and trust) can see your details.
  • Consider using a pseudonym instead of your real name if your posts are open to the public.

Be careful about what you post

From pictures of your children to details of your holiday plans, think carefully before you share things online, even if you know everyone you’re sharing with. Naturally pictures of your children in the bath or naked are a no-no (although it still shocks me how many parents and grandparents still share this stuff), and it’s also wise not to tag pictures with your children’s names.

If someone tags something about you, or a friend, that you think is inappropriate, then send them a private message asking them politely to remove it. If they fail to remove it, you can always report the post to the site’s administrator.

By Sam Wright

Sam Wright is a technology journalist based in Norwich, Norfolk.

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