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Thursday 30 March 2017
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Internet Safety for Parents, A Summary

Internet Safety for Parents, A Summary

Internet Safety for Parents, A Summary

This Summary is the summation of a special series by intrepidNOW Lifestyle on Internet Safety. The series is targeted at parents that know that they must protect their children from the dangers of online access but are not quite sure how.  We will interview the experts and share their prescriptive advice.  We also installed and evaluated 3 top products for monitoring and managing internet use and provide our high level analysis on each.

Advice from the Experts 

We sought out global experts on Internet use and security and asked them to provide advice that parents could use today to protect their children from the dangers present on the Internet.

For convenience, here is a listing of all the good advice that these fantastic experts shared:

Scott Driscoll (paraphrased)

  • Getting an iPhone is not an inalienable right, your kids should earn the right to use technology by demonstrating responsibility.
  • Respect the minimum ages set by those that created the software/device/app.  Use the “opportunity” to follow the rules as a lesson vs. teaching your kids that they don’t have to follow the rules.
  • Know what your kids are doing on their devices.
  • Have the same brand of technology as your kids.
  • Learn about the parental controls for each type of device in use, they all have some.
  • For Apple users, use the same iCloud account as your kids.
  • Set your kids’ social media accounts to PRIVATE.
  • Don’t share any more personal information in account profiles than is required. (No addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, etc.)
  • Don’t let a screen or a microphone change who you are.
  • Don’t let kids use devices when a parent is not in the room.
  • Common Sense Media is a good site for parents to keep up with technology issues, challenges, advice, etc.
  • One of the best resources to learn about what your kids are doing are you kids.  Just ask them.

Ciaran Bradley (paraphrased – and I did not include repeats of Scott’s advice)

  • At random times, sit down with your kids and review what they’ve been doing on their devices.
  • Don’t give out demographic information to anyone that you don’t know in the physical world.
  • Don’t “talk” to anyone that you’ve never met before
  • If your kids have experienced anything uncomfortable, they must come and talk to you about it.
  • SafeKids.com is a good site for parents to keep up with technology issues, challenges, advice, etc.

Tom Kersting (paraphrased – and I did not include repeats of Scott’s and Ciaran’s advice)

  • The only way to develop strong emotional intelligence is by face to face interaction with other human beings.  Individuals with strong emotional intelligence are far more successful in every aspect of life (emotionally, relationship-wise, physical health, earning potential).
  • Parents must work very hard to help overcome the fact that kids are measuring their self worth by “likes” and “thumbs up”.
  • Make your kids put their devices away during dinner and other family times.
  • You must limit you kids’ screen time.  The constant task-switching learned by kids on their (many times multiple) devices has actually “re-wired” their brain to use the multi-tasking part of their brain (visual cortex) for all tasks.
  • The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that you kids spend no more than 2 hours per day in front of a screen.

Glenda Snodgrass  (paraphrased)

  • When you purchase any new electronic device, change the default administrator password.
  • Use “standard accounts” on your computers or your devices vs. using the administrator account.
  • Think in terms of pass-phrases instead of passwords.  Use 12 characters at a minimum, 16 or more characters is better.
  • Do not re-use the same password across different sites
  • Do not check the “save my credit card information” box when you buy online.
  • Do not use public wifi.
  • Be aware that the bad guys get us to do the hard work for them by fooling us with phishing schemes.

Product Review

I installed and configured the following 3 products and used each for 2 weeks:

Our environment is almost totally Apple.  Our son has an iPad, and we have iPhones, iPads, and iMacs. In the cases of Qustodio and MMGuardian, I installed the “control” app on our son’s iPad and regularly monitored his activity via their web based monitoring software.  In the case of Circle, I installed the Circle device in our family room and set it up to control ALL devices in our house.  I monitored activity via the Circle app on my iPhone.

Qustodio

Qustodio (cust-o-dio) is installed on your child’s mobile device and is administrated via a portal on the web.  The software allows you to set up “Rules” to restrict specific applications (Minecraft, Facebook, etc) but not all the popular applications (not Madden Mobile) that kids use.  It allows you to set time usage limits both by time of day (i.e. not before 7am or after 8pm) and by time online per day (i.e. 2 hours).  It provides real-time alerts when your child goes somewhere that they are not supposed to. Qustodio allows you to restrict or allow any website specifically.  Qustodio monitors your child’s device no matter where they are.   I did have to call Qustodio for support and that did not go well until I told them that I was a blogger and was writing a review of my analysis of their product.  They then got me in touch with their engineering resources, but still could not help me get the monitoring of a specific app working.

Here is a good summary of how Qustodio works.

Pricing: Small Family Annual Subscription $49.99

My observations on Qustodio:  I really liked Qustodio for monitoring of individual devices.  It gives you the ability to restrict specific apps and sites.  I can see why parents would be satisfied with Qustodio.

MMGuardian

MMGuardian is installed on your child’s mobile device and is administrated via a portal on the web. It is peculiar in that it disables all browsers (Safari, Chrome, etc) and forces you to use the MMGuardian browser.  This could cause issues with sites that your kids use for school that require specific plugins for certain browsers.    The software allows you to set up “Rules” to restrict categories (i.e. social media, games,etc) but I was not able to set up rules for a specific application.  It allows you to set time usage limits both by time of day (i.e. not before 7am or after 8pm) and by time online per day (i.e. 2 hours). MMGuardian monitors your child’s device no matter where they are and allows you to restrict or allow any website specifically.

The MMGuardian website does a good job of describing it’s benefits.

Pricing: Family Annual Subscription $69.99

My observations:  After trying Qustodio first, I found MMGuardian more difficult to work with.  I thought it was a real burden to have to use their browser.  If I had no other choices, I would be happy to use MMGuardian, but I found Qustodio to be “tighter”, have much better alerting, and to be easier to manage.

Circle

Circle is a hardware device that was easy to set up and attach to our wireless network.  Circle immediately identified ALL (I was surprised that we have over 30 network devices in our house) devices that are using the wireless network.  Circle allows you to set up profiles (i.e. Adult Visitor, Child Visitor, etc) that you can assign new users to when they enter your house.  In these profiles, you can restrict or enable specific apps or sites, you can set time limits (by time of day or number of hours in a day) either globally or for specific apps (i.e. we restrict YouTube use to 1 hour per day), and you can “reward” your child with extra time or a late bed time limit.    One limitation with Circle is that you can only monitor devices when they are on your network.  However, you can purchase the CircleGo app to allow you to monitor devices wherever they are.

The Circle website does a good job of describing it’s features and benefits.

Pricing: Circle (hardware) $99.00  CircleGo $9.99/month

My observations:  I found Circle to provide similar “tight” control of Qustodio while additionally allowing me to manage all devices on my home network (think Echo’s, Xbox’s, AppleWatch’s, etc.).  By adding CircleGo, I got the ability to manage my son’s iPad anywhere.  Another benefit is my ability to easily restrict devices of visitors, especially my son’s friends.  Circle prompts me when it detects a new device and I simply assign that device to a profile that I’ve set up (i.e. Kid Visitor) Circle is clearly the most expensive of the 3 that I tested, but it is the one that I will continue to use.

Please note

My review and analysis was in no way scientific and may not even have been fair to all 3 of the vendors.  I did my best to setup each product, and did seek help from their websites or support when it was not working as described.  My degree is in Computer Engineering and I have been certified as a network engineer in the (long ago) past.  So I have more expertise than your average parent without a degree and background in computers and networking.  For those in and around South Alabama, I would be more than happy to speak to your civic group about my observations and findings.  We must work together to keep our children safe!

 

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Joe Lavelle
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Joe Lavelle

Editor-in-Chief, Healthcare at intrepidNow
JOE LAVELLE is a Healthcare Management and Technology Consultant with a record of successfully meeting the business and technology challenges of diverse organizations including health plans, health delivery networks, and health care companies for 25 years. Joe worked his way up through Cap Gemini and Andersen Consulting to the partner/VP level of at First Consulting Group, Technology Solutions Group and Santa Rosa Consulting. After running his own company, Results First Consulting, for 12 years Joe Co-Founded intrepidNow with Todd Schnick to create incredible content to dramatically improve the sales and marketing efforts of their clients.
Joe Lavelle
Follow me


JOE LAVELLE is a Healthcare Management and Technology Consultant with a record of successfully meeting the business and technology challenges of diverse organizations including health plans, health delivery networks, and health care companies for 25 years. Joe worked his way up through Cap Gemini and Andersen Consulting to the partner/VP level of at First Consulting Group, Technology Solutions Group and Santa Rosa Consulting. After running his own company, Results First Consulting, for 12 years Joe Co-Founded intrepidNow with Todd Schnick to create incredible content to dramatically improve the sales and marketing efforts of their clients.


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