Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How To Out-savvy Your Child

And Make Parental Controls ‘Stick’

One of the services I provide for clients, as a computer technician, is a category of tech commonly referred to as “Parental Controls”. These controls limit what the child can do on the computer – what kind of websites they can look at (no XXX, for example), what hours the Internet is available, etc.. (Yes. You can turn off the Internet after 10pm.)

These restrictions can be adjusted and modified to be appropriate for the child… loosened as the child matures, maybe. Windows comes with Parental Controls built in, or you can acquire special programs. Let’s face it, there’s a lot on the Internet children maybe shouldn’t see at their age (maybe.. ever).

In my years in business, I have been asked to enable (or install) parental controls exactly three times. When I – specifically – remind a parent of these controls, and – specifically – ask if they would like me to go ahead and turn some on.. you know, ’cause I am right there? You know what I hear? (I bet you do.)

No. Thanks. My kid is pretty smart. They’ll just find a way to turn them off.”

Sometimes I hear, “No. Thanks. My kid is pretty smart. WAY smarter than me when it comes to computers.They’ll just find a way around them.

It would be nice if I had a dollar for every time I heard that..

What percentage of parents think their 10 year old is savvier with computers than they are? Just shy of 99, I’ve come to believe.

A lot of time, I think, the parent just doesn’t want the hassle of having to stop what they’re doing and come and install each update, or new program for the child, and come and type their password so the kid can see that website. Seemingly, each and every website.. all day.. everyday.
But I digress.

I came across an article for parents: Typical Trickery of Teen Hackers

“Tech-savvy teens have figured out ways to get past parental controls, reset passwords, and install software and other activities frustrating to parents.

Fortunately, these situations are solvable. Here are some typical questions parents have about how teens are able to get around parental controls, and some practical advice on how to prevent it in the first place.”

This will tell you how to stay in control, and keep your restrictions in place. Because YOU are the parent. And if you don’t know.. maybe you ought to learn? Reading the article is a great first step.

To read my other parenting-and-tech articles, click here. Also, I have a Page you might want to look at: Safety, Kids, and the Internet. (It is in the upper right.)

Bonus: You have already seen the ads. “Black Friday” sales are everywhere. I want to remind you that this is the cyber-criminal’s favorite, and most active, time of year. It is the time to redouble your “paranoid common sense” and triple your vigilance for scams, e-mails links, making sure the payment portal is https://, etc..

Today’s free download(s): For parents.
* K9 Web Protection is free Internet filtering and control solution for the home. K9 puts YOU in control of the Internet so you can protect your kids.

As if being a parent isn’t hard enough…

The Internet has made your job a whole lot tougher. As soon as your child is old enough to get online, you have to safely guide him through a whole new world: the virtual one. How can you encourage your child to explore wonderful new places that stimulate creativity and learning while ensuring he or she doesn’t wander into dangerous territory?

Get FREE continuous protection against malware and inappropriate Web sites. Download K9 Web Protection now.

* Norton Online Family is a free service that has won recognition for excellence, and ease of use. (To see more awards, click here: Reviews & Awards.)

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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November 22, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, kids and the Internet, PC, permissions, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Tips For Parents

Today I have some Tech Advice for Parents to share..

Parents, in this “digital age”, are faced with questions and challenges new to us humans. Tech, and the World-wide Web have changed the landscape. I have assembled a quick listing that I hope parents will find helpful.

Cyberbullying – A Negative Result of Technology

“I know I am from a generation of past; however, I have been fortunate enough to keep up to speed with technology and all the good and bad that is associated with it.

Today, I happened across a website that is dedicated to providing up-to-date information about the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of cyberbullying among adolescents.”

Practical Advice for Parents: Computer Use

“A home computer can be a great tool for helping your child learn many skills. However, computer use by young children is very controversial, and even older children and teens will need your guidance in using this powerful tool in appropriate ways. You can help your family make better use of your home computer by doing the following:

Norton’s Free Safety Tool For Parents

“Easy-to-read activity reports give you the inside scoop on what your kids do online. In just minutes, you can find out what sites your kids visit, what they search for, who they chat with*, and what social networking sites they spend time at. You’ll get to know your kids better and gain a deeper understanding of their online interests, so you can protect and guide them.”

Parents, Is Your Child Asking For A Cell Phone?

If you are a parent concerned about what your child is doing with their mobile phone– whether or not they’re talking to strangers, for example– you may want to keep reading. This topic was spawned by a question from such a parent.”

A Rant on Cyber-Bullying or ‘They’re 11. You, the Parent, Take Responsibility!’

This is partially a rant and partially a list of resources to help protect your children safe online. I was “inspired” to write this post for two reasons, I was already accumulating the list of resources for keeping kids safe online and secondly, Good Morning America had an interview with a family that was victimized by cyber bullying where they got it all wrong. Here’s my two cents as a guy who isn’t as far out of the American public school system and isn’t too old to be baffled by the technology that kids (I hate the word ‘tweens’ and won’t be using it in this article.) are using.

Safety, Kids, and the Internet

“When considering how I wanted to approach this important topic, I started to feel a bit overwhelmed. I began to think that the best policy was to put up an Internet Age Limit — no one under 18 allowed.”

StaySafeOnline.org | In the home

“Is your home network secure and your family protected online? Most households now run networks of devices linked to the Internet, including computers, laptops, gaming devices, TV’s or set top boxes, and cell phones that access wireless networks. To protect your home network and your family while they’re online you need to have the right tools in place and confidence that family members can surf safely and securely. Make sure you know the basics of securing your home network and your family’s privacy.”


October is National Cybersecrity Month, and the theme is STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Protect yourself and help keep the web a safer place for everyone.

[Note: If you would like to send this article to some parents you know, Copy this https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/some-tips-for-parents/ and Paste it into an email.]

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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October 29, 2010 Posted by | computers, Internet, kids and the Internet, security | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Norton’s Free Safety Tool For Parents

Think you know what your kids are doing online?

I am not a parent. So you don’t need to write to me and tell me cruel and totalitarian and Neanderthal I am for recommending this…

NOF

Because I already know that. I’m heartless. And mean. Grrrrrrrr. See?

As a security-aware techie, I advise parents (when asked) to talk with their children about online dangers – yes. And monitor and limit their childrens’ Internet access. I am not “knocking” the importance of communication nor education, but I do believe in “trust, but verify”.
The Internet is not Rated G. Ha!

Norton Online Family is a free service that has won recognition for excellence, and ease of use. (To see more awards, click here: Reviews & Awards.)

pcm_badge “PCMag featured Norton Online Family in their roundup of Free Security Software Tools and celebrated it as one of the Best Tech Products of 2009.” -Neil Rubenking 

(Click here to read Neil’s full review.)

ip_badge “Unlike many parental control products, Norton Online Family aims to create dialog between parents and kids, not assert draconian control. There’s no surreptitious spying here – it warns the child during the login process that his or her activity may be monitored.”
FC_logo “OnlineFamily.Norton.com Block sites, set a time allowance or make hours off-limits with this free service. Monitor Web searches and IMs from your computer. For an older teen who wants privacy, you can set it to alert you only if he engages in questionable activity, like checking out porn sites.”

From author:

See your kids’ online activities at a glance –

Easy-to-read activity reports give you the inside scoop on what your kids do online. In just minutes, you can find out what sites your kids visit, what they search for, who they chat with*, and what social networking sites they spend time at. You’ll get to know your kids better and gain a deeper understanding of their online interests, so you can protect and guide them.”

The benefits of using Norton™ Online Family include

  • Simple, one-time set up
    Create your Norton™ Online Family account, add and customize your family member accounts, and then easily install the Norton Safety Minder onto all the computers used in your household.
  • Easy to use and access
    Check your child’s activity or modify your child’s profile and preferences anytime and anywhere using any computer.
  • Always stay informed about those you care most about
    Know where your children visit, who they talk to, and what they’re doing while they’re online. Parents can also set and manage time limits, permitted sites, online chat* and social networking preferences for each family member.
  • Engage and communicate with each other
    Take advantage of built-in notification and messaging, providing open discussion with your child about their online activities and better understanding about their intent with visiting specific sites or wanting to spend more time online.
  • Never miss a thing
    Send alerts via email or text message to help you address urgent events. You’ll immediately know if your child has reached their time limits, visited a blocked site, or tried to add an unknown stranger as a chat buddy* wherever you are.

ParentAlert

I would say that a few more know how than admitted it in that survey…

Did I mention this was free? The folks at Symantec get a big tip of my geek hat for this one!

* (chat monitoring) Not available in all regions and for Mac OS.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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October 1, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, kids and the Internet, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Parents, Is Your Child Asking For A Cell Phone?

Parental Monitoring And Cellular Phones

If you are a parent concerned about what your child is doing with their mobile phone– whether or not they’re talking to strangers, for example– you may want to keep reading. This topic was spawned by a question from such a parent.

And if you’re the kind of person who’s easily agitated about technology and the erosion of privacy, a Luddite, a Big Brother Conspiracy Theorist, or anyone else who hasn’t quite come to terms with the modern age we’re living in– you might want to stop reading here.
You’ve been warned. I will not respond to your angry e-mail.shhh

Regular readers (and tech-savvy people in general) know that your computer use at work is monitored. And you’ve probably heard of “spyware” and “keyloggers” that record what you type (my readers have, and that’s fersher). And you know that GPS devices can pinpoint your location.

And you know that modern phones allow text messaging, the sending of photos and movies, and surfing the Internet. (They are becoming more like little laptops everyday.)

And you know that the Internet can be a dangerous place. Especially for kids.
(read Monitoring Your Teenager’s Internet Usage – Should You?)

And thus a parent’s dilemma. If you have a child, odds are good the day will come when they want a phone. I think that happens around the ages of 7-9, these days.
And being kids, they won’t want just any old phone, but they will want a “kewl” phone; one with all the bell’s and whistles.

“But Mom, everybody’s got one!”

The answer, for you, may be to give your child a phone that allows you to see what they text and IM, control who their “contacts” are, and, maybe, even record their calls. It’s called “parental monitoring”, and the extent to which you use it is up to you.
[note: if reading that made your blood pressure go up a notch, refer now to the second paragraph.]

You don’t need to buy a special phone.. or even a new phone, to monitor your child’s activity.
* There is commercial software that can be installed on every type of phone– such as RADAR and MobileSpy. These can notify you in “real time” if a parameter you set is being broken. iPhone users can look at safe eyes.
[note: did your employer give you your cellphone? Think, people. Think. Let’s add two and two here.]

click me

* There are USB dongles that read a phone’s SIM chip –even if your child’s erased their messages– for $50.

So, if you’re a concerned parent, you have several options that will allow you to find some middle ground. And if you’re a Big Brother Conspiracy Theorist.. well, friend, it’s twice as bad as you dare to realize and it’s only going to get worse.

Today’s free link(s): Concerned parents who have a child reaching the driving age (and Big Brother Conspiracy Theorists) might read my article “What Your Car Is Saying About You.
Or you can give them a Guardian Angel cell phone which reports their location and speed..

Orig post: 10/21/08

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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June 3, 2010 Posted by | advice, cellular, computers, how to, Internet, kids and the Internet, mobile, privacy, security, tech | , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Child-Safe Internet (Browsers)

Folks, my apologies to those of you who are looking for Part 3 of my performance upgrade series. A rash of rogue infections has had me performing non-stop repairs this week as the cyberciminals are “poisoning” more and more legitimate websites (please read [and refer friends and family to] Your Computer Is Lying To You… The Epidemic Of Rogues. Hey, Mr. “Cyber Czar”. You listening?).

Today I only have time to suggest a quick reading recommendation. It is a bit dated, but contains much good information for parents.

How do you keep you kids on child-safe sites when you can’t watch over their shoulders as they surf? With a child-safe browser.

Please read Neil J. Rubenking’s, Child Safe Browsers

*     *     *

* This just out: Keep Your Child Safe Online

From online bullies to perverts to the lure of time-wasters like YouTube, there are far too many ways unsupervised kids of any age can get into trouble on the Internet. We look at a baker’s dozen ways to keep your kids out of trouble online—whether they’re toddlers or teens or thirty-something return-to-the-nesters.

Today’s free download: Download Over 5000 National Geographic Wallpapers with One Click

February 26, 2010 Posted by | kids and the Internet, security | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deciphering Texting (aka "Lingo")*

Folks– obligations require a re-posting today.

I have an embarrassing confession to make–I don’t always know how to translate what someone has text-ed into English. I need a Text-to-English dictionary. This is just one more fact, added to an already long list of facts, that tells me I’ve gotten old. We didn’t Avoid have ‘texting’ when I was a teenager.

At first, I thought texting (aka “lingo”) was simply X-treme Abbreviation. And then, I thought it might be a combination of vanity license-plate Language and X-Abbreviation. This thinking allowed me to read some of what I saw, but not all. I could decipher “gr8″ and “l8r”, but not “ttyl”. It didn’t help that I wasn’t a “text-er” myself (Use a cell phone and give myself ear cancer? Not this fella!).

And then it dawned on me– these kids are using an Adult-proof secret code. They don’t want me to decipher it. The world suddenly made a lot more sense. When I was a lad, my friends and I had used code too.

Fortunately, there are resources available for those of us who are lingo-challenged. If you see “A/S/L”, but don’t understand what it means, you can find out (age/sex/location?) — and if you are a parent concerned about your child and what they’re doing and saying on the Internet and in chatrooms — I suggest you do.

If you’re like me, and just want to learn, and try to increase your “hipness” quotient (or just avoid some terrible faux pas), you will also find these translation resources useful and interesting. My favorite of these online dictionaries is Lingo2Word. With it, you can paste in text, and have it automatically deciphered for you.

Related link: Lingo2Word. “Lingo2word is devoted to demystifying the new Internet shorthand language of Text messages, Chat rooms and Emails. We are devoted to the fun of text messaging in all forms, there is a whole new fun language out there just waiting for you!”

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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October 26, 2009 Posted by | advice, cellular, computers, how to, kids and the Internet, tech | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Look At Our Newest Addiction*

In “vacation mode”. This article proved quite popular, and is a topic I believe is worthy of your consideration. Enjoy your weekend.

gaming-addictionTwo recent events have reminded me to ponder the social implications of Internet Addiction– one, the power (once again) went out for a lengthy duration here at T4E Headquarters; and, two, my nephew’s father wanted to take him for his first fishing trip.

At a lake.

Out in the boondocks.

Where there is no Internet.
(Thus, no Swords & Dragons Quest Guild Wars*) My nephew is 12.

We use our computers, and the Internet, for lots of different purposes (see Why We Compute) and some of us, like me, even conduct our businesses online. For us, service interruptions can seem minor inconveniences, or disastrous business events. 12 year-old boys (well, my nephew anyway) use computers and the Internet to play games, and an interruption seems like the END OF THE WORLD.

Dr. Orzack, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of cyber-addiction, and member of the Harvard Medical School faculty, lists the Symptoms of IA:

1) Having a sense of well-being or euphoria while at the computer
2) Inability to stop the activity
3) Craving more and more time at the computer
4) Neglect of family and friends
5) Feeling empty, depressed, irritable when not at the computer
6) Lying to employers and family about activities
7) A child’s grades fall and the teacher notes that he/she is falling asleep in class

When I lose my Internet service, not only am I unable to assist clients with Remote Sessions, but I experience a good dose of #5 on that list. I joke with friends that I experience Internet “withdrawal” (and I show them my trembling hands). But I am not an addict, not like some of the people who have appeared in the headlines– I have not lost my wife/house/job/friends due to excessive Internet fascination.

And, honestly, I don’t think my nephew is that bad off either.. he did go on the fishing trip and enjoyed it. But I am concerned. I know that these MMORPG’s are designed to be addicting, and that they take hundreds of hours to play enough to “advance” in. I know that my nephew spends far too much time with his online games (like, all his free time).

And.. I know that his behavior (getting home from school and going straight to the computer) is considered “normal” these days.
(And mom can keep an eye on him.. and he’s not out doing risky things like skateboarding, climbing tall trees, riding motorscooters, or running with sharp sticks..)

I am not an expert. I cannot tell you if you, or your child is an Internet Addict. I cannot predict the future, and see how my nephew is “going to turn out”. I can only tell you that Internet Addiction sure appears to be real, and that it is a subject worth consideration.

And, there’s an online addiction assessment test you can take if you have suspicions/concerns.

If you think you are, or your child is, an addict, there is a large community of help available. Enter “Internet Addiction” into a search engine, and start seeking it.

* A game name I made up. Photo courtesy of WiredParentPad

Also, please see Video Game Addiction – True or False? and Detox Centers for Computer and Internet Related Addictions

* Published on: Aug 23, 2008

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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July 18, 2009 Posted by | computers, Gaming, Internet, kids and the Internet, tech | , , , , | 6 Comments