As you can probably tell we travel frequently as a family, and I have to be honest that we’ve become pretty much reliant on technology. From getting directions and entertaining our son on long car journeys, to checking in on the way to the airport, to keeping in touch with work email while we’re away, I’m sorry to admit that we are virtually dependent on our devices
Adding to our own dependency to tech, our son who has just turned six, has been discovering the wonderful world of asking Siri questions like “what is the weather like in…” and catching Pokemon wherever we are. This opens up a new world of challenges as we struggle to manage his online activity and keep him safe, while ensuring he becomes tech-savvy enough to fit in with his friends and keep up at school. It’s not too much of a problem to manage when we’re at home, but when we’re away it does present other problems. Here’s how we go about staying safe online when on holiday…
Stick to apps with child-filters
Our approach has always been to set clear guidelines for when our son can go online while on holiday, and stick to them fairly rigidly. For instance, the tablet is only for long journeys or when Mummy and Daddy are desperate for a lie-in.
We also carefully monitor the type of content our son accesses. He’s actually pretty good at sticking to websites we have previously okayed such as educational games, but we have learned from experience to keep a close eye on him when he’s on YouTube because you never know what kind of wormhole kids will go down on that site! We recently discovered YouTube Kids, and that gives major peace of mind, ensuring that he will never see anything that’s suitable only for adults. Many other apps have similar filters for children that you can look into.
Managing screen time
My son, like many other kids I suspect, does sometimes get a bit obsessive about the family tablet, especially when he’s close to completing a level on some game or other. I recently reviewed the Amazon Fire which I really like, as you can manage profiles and screen time, so if I decide I only want him to spend half-an-hour every day on it, the tablet shuts down once 30 minutes are up. Bear in mind it sometimes leads to tantrums, and you often find yourself in a bargaining situation for “just five more minutes..!”
Avoid messaging apps
As someone who spends a lot of time online both for work and personal use, I know that the web can often be a dangerous place, especially so for children who can’t appreciate the risks out there.
I do think it’s a good idea to avoid letting young children loose on any app that allows messaging, such as music.ly or Snapchat, until they’re at an age where they understand that not everyone is who they say they are online.
If your kids want to write to friends and family while they’re on holiday then I suggest using a child-specific app such as tocomail, where you have to authorise any new contact that’s made with your child. My son has had many hours of pleasure emailing his Daddy every now and again to let him know that he is still a “big poo-head”.
Online security when abroad
When travelling you often have to depend on public wifi, and I’m always wary of using it for sensitive applications like banking. I like the look of the new Kaspersky Security Cloud not only because it gives you that additional layer of security whether you’re browsing or making a bank transfer, but it also covers several devices for all the family for one price so it’s pretty good value in that respect. Plus, the Kaspersky’s Family Package app includes a “safe kids” tool which notifies you about suspicious activities and provides you with summaries of what your kids search, see and share, protecting your kids against digital dangers.
I also use a VPN, especially for transactions when I need to be certain no-one’s looking in, and try to do as much as I can on my phone rather than my laptop. If I’m honest I could be a bit more careful, but touch wood I’ve not had any major issues to date when on holiday. I will probably get hacked in the next hotel lobby I enter now I’ve written that!
If you’re anything like me and take around a thousand photos every day while travelling, then you need to ensure your holiday snaps don’t go missing. I once had a nightmare in America when I lost about three weeks-worth of our trip simply due to a mishap with a memory card. So I always ensure my Cloud back-up is turned on to upload whenever there’s wifi, safe in the knowledge that I can then happily spend a week of evenings going through our most recent trip.
Do you have any tips to stay safe online whilst travelling? We’d love to hear your experiences – let us know in the comments!
Nb: This post has been written in collaboration with Kaspersky, but as always all tips, experiences and opinions are my own.