This morning I was watching BBC Clicks where they discussed GDPR, data, privacy and many more of those scary things. I started thinking about Google safe search settings and parental controls that I never use.
It also got me thinking about how I tend to accept every “Cookies” that I see just to be able to scroll through a site. Also, many sites make it impossible to not accept ‘cookies’.
I realized how much information those sites and Google must be getting off me. They probably know my browsing history, visited sites, social media accounts, location, email, and many more.
The good news for me is that I am not very young which means that Google probably knows only a quarter of my life. Luckily there weren’t any Google when my mom was pregnant with me.
But for my kids, they will be browsing and start using the internet at a much younger age than I did. They will have tons of digital footprints left behind.
But before we jump into Google Chrome, did you know that there are safe search browsing setting options even for Youtube?
When you open chrome you are automatically signed into your Google account. Hence, you can see all your saved bookmarks, search history, etc.
Based on everything that you click and browse, Google can make a profile of you and also keep targeting you with relevant ads.
It can be nice to see ads that are relevant to your interests. But as an adult, you can fight the temptation to not click on those ads.
But imagine your child who plays online games keep getting targeted by game ads every time he is on the internet. Can your kid fight that same temptation? Maybe not.
Also, why give Google the ability to create a profile of your child from a young age. A simple first step to protect their privacy is by logging out of chrome.
When you do this Google can no longer associate that browsing history to a particular account. Hence, whatever is browsed in that hour will not come back and haunt your kids
How to do this :
So if you decide to not log out of Google the next thing safe thing you can do is to Manage Sync.
This means that you stay logged into Google but you decide what information you want to share with them. Hover off the options you think Google should not know.
Just on that same setting page, you will see Control how your browsing history is used to personalize Search, ads and more.
When you click on that you have the option to manage what information Google collects from your kids.
To be safe you can hover off all the activities. For instance, location history, device information, youtube search, and many more.
It is up to you to decide which activities you want to share. But I suggest switch it all off when your kids are using the internet.
Just a note of caution if your kids have a smartphone then you need to go to their settings and switch off the location function too.
Few times I had to enter my address to make online payments. To make life easier I let Google save my address when I actually click the button “save” after filling in my address.
Out of laziness, I allowed Google to know where me and my family lives. Now I can’t imagine if someone was to rob my house all they needed was my Google account and password and they can know exactly if am home or not at this exact minute.
While that example might be over exaggerating it just shows how dangerous it is leaving your location information online.
To do this :
With the new GDPR law, I see many sites are giving me that “accept” or “manage’ cookie button. Unfortunately, many of the websites make hard to not accept the cookie.
Hence, if you are like me then you end up accepting all the cookies that come in your way.
Cookies are basically files that stores and tracks your behaviour on a particular website. For instance, where you click on the website can then be used to target you with relevant ads.
That is why sometimes when you like something on a website, you are then bombarded with similar ads on all other websitse. Even the same ad can appear on Facebook or other social media channels.
The problem is that you really don’t know what information you are giving out and to whom it be will be sold too.
Here is how you can limit cookies on your computer:
This is an additional filter that is added to protect kids from viewing inappropriate content.
By setting this up you can block potentially harmful content from showing up.
This does not guarantee that inappropriate or adult content does not slip through but it at least allows your kids to browse the internet in a safer manner. It is better to have this feature switched on.
Here is how you can set up Google Safe Search :
This basically means your browsing history won’t be saved. To browse using this mode click on File, open New Incognito Window.
A word of caution is that you are still not anonymous. Websites still store your IP address. And Google still knows what you are up to.
I would not rely on browsing using this mode to keep kids safe on chrome.
Don’t just depend on Google for everything that you browse.
I do know the convenience of using Google, and I tend to get lazy and just keep going on Google.
There is other browsing option like DuckDuckGo that does not monitor you as much as Google does.
Here is a list of other kid-friendly search engines you can check out.
This is how you can change your default browser setting :
It is convenient to leave all these settings as it is. But the problem arises when our kids are the ones on the internet and a pile of their data is being collected since they are young.
We are yet to discover how their data will be used, who it will be sold too, and the effects of it on their future. A little is known for now but the one thing for sure is that we do know data is powerful.
By spending few minutes to have these settings in place you can at least keep your kids privacy intact. It might not be a full proof of privacy but its a start.
Before you go, if your kids are using an Android device check out Google Family Link to help you track what your kids are doing on their devices.
Check out this simple internet safety rules for your kids
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Here are other tips to you keep children safe in the digital age :
Cyber Flashing :The new online safety threat on your kid’s iPhone
10 things you can do right now to keep your children safe: Easy and clever online safety tips
3 dangerous places for children to be online : 3 places kids should have limited internet access
Children’s online safety book- teach them about internet safety from a young age. For 3 -10 years old