Computer safety refers to the ability to use your computer without fear of harm to yourself, your child or others while using the Internet and other computer software. In addition to personal safety, it is important the whole family uses the computer well to ensure your desktop and laptops remain in good condition over time so the whole family can enjoy doing their work and being online.
Keep all computers in one workstation in the home~The problem begins when everyone disappears to their rooms to use their computers. It is much easier to monitor the activities done on the computers such as chat room safety if all computers are in one place and easy to see. If planned wisely, such an arrangement can ensure that your child will not be unsupervised when using either their own computer or a shared family computer connected to the Internet.
Make sure that the computer is installed with an up-to-date antivirus~For long term use of your computer, a licensed and functional antivirus software program must be properly installed and updated regularly. Again for security purposes, your antivirus can block suspicious websites, pop-ups, spyware and malware that can expose you to computer viruses. Schedule routine full scans of the computer to keep malicious programs at bay and have all family members know what to do if a window should pop-up asking whether or not to allow access. Also, many software programs have options to block and/or restrict access to particular sites such as websites that contain adult content. Review your particular software so you know how to take full advantage of the options.
Never use the Internet without a firewall~The main purpose of a firewall is to make your Internet connection secure and keep hackers out. Disabling your firewall for any reason is letting your guard down because there are numerous people out there that would like to get your information and use it against you.
Use strong passwords for your computer and Internet accounts~Many websites indicate the strength of your password as you sign up. It is recommended that you use a combination of letters and numbers to make up your unique password. Avoid using the easy option, which is your birth date and month. A good rule of thumb is if your child can remember the recommended type of password and understands the reason for such security, they are ready to use the Internet with your supervision. Of course, older children can do this without a problem and often need the Internet for homework and other school assignments. They may need to get their work done before you get home at the end of the day or work online when you are away from home. We suggest that you share a password with your child so you are able to see the ‘history’ of their surfing and regularly check their online habits. This will allow you to have conversations with your child should you see any surfing that poses a high-risk situation or where the content you are viewing is a problem.
Always password-protect your personal information~You may want to save details of your employment history, family medical records, academic records and other personal information on your computer. Make sure these files are also password protected. These specific files need a password that is different than the general login password. Computer safety will also mean that you have backups of such information in hard copy or in portable storage devices.We all get caught at some point having computer hardware issues, which is likely to be the one day you really need access to a particular file on your computer and the darn thing just won’t turn on or acts in a strange way. If you have a backup of all your files, you will be able to have the problem fixed and then simply re-load your information from the backup copy. All external storage devices are different so make sure you understand how to backup and reload your files to avoid the awful stress of thinking you have lost your important information.
Never give out or put your passwords in writing~This is a very dangerous practice that we’ve all done from time-to-time thinking that we won’t remember our passwords; however, this can put our personal safety at risk. Please become familiar with a password management system that will help you keep all your access information safe while ensuring if you forget something you’ll have a way to get the information about how to access your files or log in online. Putting a password on paper will expose you to the risk of compromising your information. Many people have had their computers stolen and if you have a list of access information close by and easy to find the culprit can simply take that list and will have full access to both your stored and online information. Develop a password management system that will help you to keep all your passwords in mind.
If using a public computer, always log out of your accounts~Never, ever select the “Remember Me” option when signing in on a public computer. Even if you log out after this selection, the next person can gain access to your information and will have your password auto-filled. Given our children use public computers at the school, the library or at the homes of friends and family this is an important safety tip to review with your child. It is also advisable to delete your browsing history after using a public computer to prevent any subsequent users from checking your Internet session. This is quite simple and once you learn how to do this on your own computer, you can use the same process over and over again no matter what computer you are on.
Always shut down your computer after use~Never leave your computer idle for long and avoid allowing the computer to enter sleep modes for long periods of time after you’ve been on the computer. Any time your computer is left unattened is another chance for a hacker to find you. If you are done a particular work, do a full shut down. You can always restart it later when you need it.
Consult your Internet Service Provider for more assistance~Find out all the computer safety and Internet safety methods that you can use from the professionals themselves. Your Internet provider can explain services that will give you more control over the use of your computer, such as blocking pornographic sites and giving you a danger alert for suspicious websites that could harm your computer. Importaantly, we must all password protect our wireless systems. If you install a new wireless change the password given to you and make it personal.
By having the information you need to keep you and your family safe along with keeping your computers working well, the whole family will be able to enjoy using the computer and enjoying all that there is to offer on the Internet.