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Keep your family safe online

Keep your family safe online

As part of National Crime Victims Rights Week, Det. John Stirling, with the Shawnee Police Department, has some tips to keep your family safe online.

Educate yourself

Websites such as commonsensemedia.org and netsmartz.org offer information on technology issues such as gaming, cell phones, cyberbullying, and inappropriate content.

Set boundaries

Talking to your children about your expectations of appropriate online behavior is important but there are ways to prevent accidental or intentional access to content you don't want them to see or use. Several programs such as Net Nanny or Mobicip allow you to control what your kids can accidentally or intentionally access on a device. There are also ways to limit access within a program.

  • YouTube: have an account that automatically logs in and set filter
  • Internet Explorer: enable the content advisor
  • Google search engine: set your preferences
  • iTunes: don't give your kids the password
  • Android: set a PIN code and don't give it to your kids

Cut back on the selfies

Stirling said that many crimes start with a photo. The background can reveal where you are currently or where you live. The content of the photo, such as a child in a school uniform, can inadvertently broadcast information that you wouldn't otherwise post online. Programs are available that can interpret a photo's metadata and can tell exactly where it was taken and even what direction the camera or phone was pointed.

One easy solution is to the disable GPS location on phone. (Directions for iPhone can be found here and directions for Android can found be here.)

Look for hidden file apps

Hidden file apps appear innocent but they hold deep secrets. Spy Calc, which disguises itself as DigiCalc, looks and acts like a calculator but if you punch in the right numbers you have access to photos and other files that have been hidden away. Photo Vault is another popular app. It doesn't disguise itself, but it does protect photos with several layers of security.

Another way to check for hidden file apps is to look at the memory usage for your device. If a basic app - like a calculator - is taking up a lot of memory that is a sign it is hiding things.

Check your history

Go into iTunes and see what has been downloaded. If you see a cloud with an arrow pointing downward the app is or has been installed on your device. If you still have the option to purchase the app, it has not been installed on your device.

Be prepared

You hope nothing ever happens to your children but you don't want to waste time if something does. The FBI Child ID app lets you store current photos and info such as height, weight, and hair color, on your phone rather than a cloud for easy access and extra security. Apps such as Alert ID send public safety alerts for your neighborhood.