Being part of the digital generation myself and having two young kids, I am constantly thinking about how I can keep myself and my family safe using the online world. I have never been one to shy away from the issue but I know many parents would rather tackle the issue when it smacks them in the face, well unfortunately that may come earlier than you think now with unrestricted access to the internet through online games in particular which later leads into the use of Social Media more.

Privacy settings are one of those ways that, despite the stigma around them being ‘faffy’ and complicated are in fact such an easy win when it comes to protecting your private information and other online strangers from contacting you.

We all like quick wins so I will show you some simple ways to set your privacy settings in a moment. This is to show you that you can all do it once shown how.

I would like to make this very clear though, nothing is fool proof. You can think you’ve set your privacy settings and forgot to hit the save button so your changes are undone, or you’ve set something and then very annoyingly a major update for that app comes in, you hit update without reading the small print (I mean, who reads that anyway?...) and BANG your privacy settings were reset back to their default settings. It clearly said at the very top of the changes incurred by the update that this would happen but we hastily hit the update button anyway or even more difficult for users, you have automatic updates turned on so you didn’t even get a chance to see the small print.

Always check back on your privacy settings every 3 months or so to double check they’re just how you would like them, or be prompted by the strange person following you / adding you / messaging you that something may have changed that has allowed that to start happening.

Some people will ask “why do I need a private account, I want people to see, isn’t that the point?” Well the point of social media is to connect people, yes, but it depends how practically you take that, you can use social media and other platforms to connect with your friends or even long lost friends & family and these are all wonderfully positive ways to make use of these tools provided to us. But how about the person with bad intentions half way across the world who just wants to copy your photo’s to pose as yourself by making a fake profile, do you feel comfortable knowing someone could do that?

So what are the dangers of not having it private?

1. Well let’s start with the obvious one that anyone in the world can contact you, for example Facebook has 2 billion monthly active users who could see & contact you.

2. Then there is the point I made above, anyone in the world can copy your personal information including your photo’s and age, stick a new name and create a completely fake account

3. You can be scammed so easily when you’re emotional and we have our phones on us all times of the day, so at some point we feel emotional whilst on our phones. We make decisions when we are in this state we would never usually make, like say hello to a stranger, click a link that was sent in a message which could be a virus, etc.

4. Online Sexual Predators can be so good at what they do that you do not even realise they’re grooming you. Especially young kids who are so impressionable, some are easily bought with kindness and online currency for a game.

So it’s quick win time!

Your Phone Recording Your Location Data - Turn Saving The Data off - Keep Your Location Services On

Did you know that your phone by default is recording all of your location data, search engine history and so much more? Even more interesting is, it’s so easy to turn off and it doesn’t affect your Location Services that can be so handy for so many apps.

Instagram Private Account

Instagram have made privacy settings incredibly easy, it’s just a couple of clicks and you have a private account.

Facebook Private Account

Facebook Privacy, most will be familiar with throughout the years and it’s not changed much. Set your settings to “only me” or “friends” to be sure your information is as private as it can be.

Snapchat Ghost Mode

Snapchat has a feature that has been running since 2017 whereby your “snaps” appear on a live map for all of your friends / followers and friends of friends to see. You’re quite literally advertising where your home is, if in your bedroom for example. You’ll be pleased to know with a few clicks, that’s all turned off!

Thank you for reading, check back in on a regular basis to find out more.

Online Safety UK