Thursday, December 20, 2012

BB parenting fail: Internet safety (with giveaway!)

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Thank goodness Noo is only turning four on Saturday otherwise I'd be feeling really guilty right now. But I know I've got time to put things right before my little iGeneration baby is truly affected by Internet safety.

A couple of weeks ago I attended my very first blogger brand event. Organised by Digital Parents and hosted by Norton, I got to listen to the very informative Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate, speak about online safety for families. I've been online since 1997, and online safety is something that I've thought a lot about over years in relation to myself, but this is the first time I'd really thought about it regarding Noo.

Things have changed so much since I was a kid. Internet safety was not an issue my parents had to think about when I was Noo's age, let alone through my teenage years, when things can get pretty hairy online for the 'always connected' generation. Managing Internet safety for our families is something that my generation of parents, and those that follow, will have as a constant part of our lives as our children grow and become more involved with the online world.

Even though Noo is only turning four he still has access to the Internet every day. He has been able to unlock my iPhone since he was 10 months old. He uses 'our' (supposedly my) iPad everyday and has access to well over 250 apps that we have installed on it.

This kid loves our iPad! Check out the filthy look I get when I try to take it off him
(or that could be because I took his photo again!)

A few weeks ago I made some confectionery confessions about letting Noo eat too many sugar foods. And then I babbled in another post about how, as Noo reaches for his fourth birthday, I worry I am not doing enough as a parent to set adequate boundaries for my little boy, especially when it comes to discipline.

Now I will make a third and final confession: I let Noo use the iPad pretty much unmonitored and without limit.

At four years old he still cannot read but he understands a lot of what he sees and hears. His favourite app at the moment is Minecraft and he can play it for hours. He also loves watching Minecraft gameplay videos on YouTube. The biggest problem for me is that a lot of these videos are made and narrated by excited teenage boys who swear a lot. These videos aren't censored and they are certainly not given an age appropriate rating. Although Noo has never used the bad words it is still not great for him to be exposed to them.

The other thing about YouTube is the 'suggested' videos it provides on the right hand side of the page. Some of these can be quite salty or violent and downright inappropriate viewing for a four year old but are one 'touch' away from being watched by those innocent blue eyes.

Right now you are probably thinking, just don't let him use YouTube. And you are probably right.  Excuses I now, but he gets so much enjoyment from it and I guess I keep waiting for Noo to lose interest in the video app. After attending the Norton event I realised I really should be doing more.

The other way Noo has access to the Internet is through links on supposedly kid friendly apps. One touch in the corner of the screen and your iPad whizzes from the app you are playing to the app store asking if you want to make another "in app purchase". I think these are the biggest ripoffs of the app world. Especially in apps made for kids. Buying too many can seriously make an impact on the credit card you have attached to the store.

When it comes down to it, keeping our kids safe online is largely up to the parents. In our family's case that means me! What we need to do to help our kids stay safe online depends on their age too. Because Noo obviously isn't friending up strangers on Facebook or being bullied by a troll on Twitter, what I can do to keep Noo safe, and my bank balance manageable, is pretty easy.

According to the Norton Online Family Report which was conducted over 24 countries, 62% of kids (aged 8-17 years old) have experienced a negative situation online. That statistic however is dramatically decreased where the family has 'established house rules' regarding online activity.

Even though Noo is still young, and hearing bad words on YouTube is the worst 'negative experience' he has endured, I still have to start thinking about our Online Safety House Rules. For now these are:

BB Headquarters Online Safety House Rules

1. Limit iPad time to 1 hour per day.

2. Listen in to what Noo is watching on YouTube to ensure the language stays 'safe'
(this is something I already do most of the time).

3. If I am not in the same room as Noo while he is using the iPad, switch the device to 'Airplane Mode' so that he cannot access the Internet for YouTube. 

4. Ensure I keep iTunes password protected so that Noo can't accidentally download unwanted apps or make any in app purchases that could end up costing me a fortune.

These rules are clearly written for a parent of a four year old - me. As my Noo grows and his other skills develop, like reading and social interaction, the BBHQ Online Safety House Rules will need to change and be added to. And they will become his rules to follow, not only mine to enforce.

Wow! I've babbled on a lot again! But there's so much to think about and it's only going to get more involved as Noo gets older and technology changes.

I've talked about keeping Noo safe online, now what about my laptop and my our iPad? Keeping my personal files like photos, university assignments, and other important documents safe from viruses is really important to me, just as I imagine it is really important for you.

Also, I'd like to keep my identity private as well, thanks very much! The thought of someone hacking my computer and getting my personal information sends shivers down my spine.

As we all know Norton make virus protection software. As good timing would have it, with my own virus protection subscription about to expire, Norton kindly gave the bloggers who attended the event a free one year subscription to Norton 360 Multi-Device worth $149.99. Stoked!

I also have one more to give away to one lucky reader. Yay!

Yes, this is my first giveaway

Could I be any more excited?

Check out Norton's website here to see just how comprehensive this software is for the protection of up to five of your devices.

To enter the giveaway all you have to do is tell me what file, or collection of files, saved on your computer you would hate to lose and why. 

For me, my photos and music collection would be devastating to lose - all those travel memories, baby photos of Noo and nearly eight years of collecting MP3s amounting to 10,000 tracks - seriously, losing all that would make me cry!

This is a game of skill and will be judged on the creativity of the answer. Just post your response in the comments below. My lovely sister, Yolanda, who I have blogged about heaps, will judge which answer is the winner. She works in communications so I'm sure she is well qualified for the position!

The competition is only open to Australian residents and closes midday on Christmas Eve, Monday 24 December 2012 so get cracking like a Christmas cracker over the weekend to get your answers in.

I will notify the winner by email and Norton will send the winner their prize.

Good luck!


Disclaimer: I attended the Norton family Internet safety lunch. I received a lovely meal and a one year subscription to Norton 360 Multi-Device but was under no obligation to blog about Norton or to run this giveaway. I was, however, paid $50 administration fee and also had my travel to and from the event reimbursed by Digital Parents. All opinions are my own in accordance with my disclosure policy.


kathryn said...

I lost the final draft of my novel about 5 years ago! I had it in bits and pieces - chapters I'd emailed for critiquing and such but so many different versions everywhere and some I've never recovered. Why didn't I back it up?

I guess having kids on the ipad is better than plonking them in front of the telly. At least they are doing something interactive. I think the worst thing when they are older are the pop-up ads. I get some pretty bad ones when I go on a site to watch Japanese dramas (cos chicks who watch j-drama are so into porn?). I didn't have internet at home until my son was older so figured if he wanted to look up porn he would but having it shoved in their face (no innuendo intended) is a whole other thing.

Diet Schmiet said...

I have EVERYTHING on my desktop computer. Photos (including a heap of my dad we put together for his funeral and some I used for a photo-book I had made about his life, after he had dementia); but also all of my writing. In fact, as I do everything online, my LIFE is on my computer!

JennyB said...

Years of shots of the kids and 10,000 travel snaps... HATE to lose them 'cos we're not going back!

Dee said...

My music. I spent a hell of a lot of time ripping all our CD's, naming and archiving them. If I lost them I would surely die, so much time wasted!

Diana O said...

All of our important documents & paid bills. It's so much easier to find them with a 'ctrl f', than it is to sort through manual files. Hate to lose them because they save so much time.

Karly said...

Yup, I'm with you. I have thousands of songs, wedding photos, baby photos and holiday photos spread across two laptops. I actually hardly ever look at the photos...but I'd be devastated if they weren't there.

April Jane said...

Precious memories in the form of photo's which I have backed up but would be devastated to lose because they are so special to me, mainly the once in a lifetime moment of the birth of my 3 children.

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