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18 Dec 2017

A Digital Christmas - Tips for staying safe

It’s inevitable that technology will play a prevalent role in our lives over the festive period, which is why it’s more important than ever for families to be aware of the risks the digital world can bring.

Everyone will undoubtedly want to share their fun and antics on social media this Christmas, however it’s important that you don’t overshare. Thieves are increasingly taking to social media to seek out potential victims, therefore sharing your presents or saying you’re on holiday could leave you open to risk. If you want to share information and pictures of your travels, this should only be posted once you’re back home.

You’re also bound to be receiving a significantly higher number of emails at this time of year, with companies advertising their end of year offers to try and encourage you to purchase. This provides the perfect environment for phishing scams to thrive. We must all be vigilant before clicking links in emails - remember, if an offer looks to good to be true, it probably is.

The use of e-cards and electronic gift cards are also on the rise. It’s important to be cautious when receiving them - as with phishing emails, hackers utilise the festive period for their gain. Before opening, be sure to check the legitimacy with the gift giver and be wary of .zip or .exe links or attachments.

Connected toys

It’s not just household appliances that are taking on the IoT trend, we’re now seeing the rise of internet enabled toys. The interactivity that connected toys offer provides children with endless fun, but with each new exciting change or update comes a plethora of new risks and challenges.

Parents should feel comforted in knowing that the toys their children play with are secure and private, without the worry of any attached personal information on the device being hacked or exploited. It’s important that whether you’re a family member or a friend, you’re aware of the following questions before you make a purchase:

  • What information does the toy collect?
  • Will the toy take pictures or videos of my child?
  • Does it require location services to work or can I turn off this feature?
  • Where will the information collected be stored?
  • What parental controls are available and how do i access them?

Smart devices for children

To ensure your child’s new smart device is safe and secure from the moment they open it, you should follow the steps below ahead of Christmas day:

  • Install parental controls
  • Make sure in-app purchases are disabled
  • Only download apps and games that you have already checked out
  • Promote the use of age appropriate apps such as YouTube kids or iPlayer Kids

Once the child has received the device, speak to them and make sure they are aware of how to safely use the device going forwards. This includes guidance around social media, how to report offensive comments and how to block people. If you are unsure about this, read our previous blog that guides you through seven simple steps to stay safe online.

Another great tip is to ensure you have parental controls set up on your home internet as this will reduce the chances of children accessing inappropriate material. The UK Safer Internet Centre has a useful guide that explains the setting up process from the big 4 internet providers - BT, Sky, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media.  

If you have any questions about staying safe online this festive period, comment below. Happy holidays!

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