Technology gifts topped mostly everyone’s holiday list this year. According to a Consumer Electronics Association report, 65 percent of Americans, or roughly 160 million people, are planning to buy tech gifts this holiday season. So, shaking the present before you open it is probably not the best idea.
Now that all the gifts are open, here are some thoughts to make your new toys safe and fun for the whole family.
Accident Protection Plans and Warranties
Accident protection plans are usually a great idea to make sure you’re not stuck with a shattered screen for months on end until you can afford a replacement. Plans, prices and conditions vary by company, so check them out and see which one is right for you. Even the most careful person can’t control the people or environment around their new toys. Don’t worry if you didn’t purchase the plan or warranty extension when you bought the item, places like Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy or your local wireless retailer will allow you to add this a few weeks after the initial purchase – just don’t lose the receipt!
Get to know the restriction settings on all your devices. Amazon Fire tablets and Apple devices both allow content filtering, and the Fire gives users the option to place time limits on apps. But what if you want to place time limits on other devices?
Circle is a $99 device that pairs with your Wi-Fi network to create profiles tailored to each family member across any device on the network. Websites can be restricted. Content can be filtered. Time limits can be established for individual apps. That allows you to use features like “BedTime” to force your kids to quit playing on the internet or to “pause” the internet for one child until she gets her homework done while still allowing access to the rest of the family.
Keeping the Wallet Closed
We’ve all heard about the time the neighbor’s kid racked up hundreds of dollars in charges on the App store by purchasing some bags of gold for a game. Are you also prone to handing your device to your child for him to play with? If so, Apple devices have settings where once you make a purchase and enter your password, any subsequent purchases during the next 15 minutes won’t require the password again. Don’t download a game for your child and end up accidentally giving him a 15-minute digital shopping spree. Set the device to ask for your password every time a purchase is made, and keep the password to yourself.
For extra security, turn off “Installing Apps” and “In-App Purchases” in the device’s restriction settings to prevent any chance of unwanted charges.
Any device that connects to the internet has the possibility of being hacked. That is why consumers need to be cognizant of how secure their devices are. Never give more information than you are comfortable with giving when setting up a new device or account. Some products don’t actually require all the data they are requesting. Look to see if there is a “Skip” button when you’re asked for data you don’t want to share.
Don’t forget to setup Android Device Manager or Find My iPhone on your Android and Apple devices, respectively. If your device is lost or stolen, each app will allow you to lock it, make it ring, show it on a map, send it a message and wipe it clean of your personal data.
Do you have trouble creating and remembering all of your different passwords? Apps like 1Password and LastPass will help generate unique complex passwords for different websites. All you need to remember is one master password for it to fill in the correct password for that website. And leave “phishing” to the local lake with apps like Webroot SecureWeb Browser that alert users to malicious websites.
No safeguard is perfect or absolute. Use all the tools at your disposal and sit down and talk as a family. Establish clear expectations and restrictions when it comes to a child’s use of technology. Make this a safe and techie holiday for you and your family.
This post also appeared in The Tennessean, where Concept Technology has a bi-weekly feature in the Business section.