One of the reasons these devices are so popular is because of their portability and accessibility. But it’s important to remember that despite their convenient size and sleek packaging, these gadgets are just as powerful and connected as any laptop – which also makes them just as vulnerable to malware.
Here are 8 ways to ensure your loved ones use their new gifts safely all year-round:
- Keep a clean machine: All Internet-enabled devices
need protection from malware and other threats. Before you start playing,
make sure your devices are up-to-date with the latest software and
operating system, web browsers and apps and anti-virus protection.
user reviews before you download an app to understand what data (location,
photos, contacts, etc.) the app can access on your device. Some games that
are free for the initial download may contain hidden costs or pay-to-play
features. Remember to always download apps from trusted marketplaces, like
iTunes or Google Play.
- Activate parental controls: Parental controls are a great
way to be proactive about your child’s activities online. When
enabling parental controls, use age-appropriate settings to filter, monitor
and block your child’s activities.
- Protect your child’s privacy: Many online and video games
allow players to speak or even video chat with one another. Kids should
know that they shouldn’t share personal information with others, even
people they think they can trust. In this case, personal information
extends beyond the basics (home address, birthdate, email, real name,
etc.) and kids should know not to share personal details like where they
go to school, where their parents work or their weekend plans. Make sure
your child’s username does not reveal their full name, location, gender,
age, or any other personal information. (Examples of good usernames:
Gamer2013 or Lizard12). If an avatar or profile image is an option,
make sure your kids use something other than a photo of themselves.
- Ask questions and talk to the
If you are giving a video game or gaming console as a gift, video game
store employees and other parents can be valuable resources for guidance.
Game review websites often have photos and videos to help a parent get
acquainted with content and age-appropriate material. Learn more at: http://www.esrb.org/about/resources.jsp.
- Monitor downloads: Don’t let your child
download anything without your permission. This includes cheat programs
that may claim to help your child advance levels in the game, but could
really be carrying malware.
- Report cyberbullying: Online games are your child’s virtual playground, and bullies exist on the Internet - just as they do on an actual playground. Talk to your kids about their online gameplay and make sure they know who to talk to if they encounter a bully, online or off. Do your part by reporting misbehavers to a game publisher or its online community moderator.
- Be mindful of remote connectivity: It’s a good idea to disconnect your devices from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use.