Podcast Episode 16 – Google Security Tips

The Fathers Mandate Part 5 of 8

From Growing Kids God’s Way
Scroll down to the reference for Chapter 4

Happy Birthday Caden

Mandate number 5.  A father must be the encourager of the family.

Not just encouraging words but a spirit of encouragement.

Leave notes for your kids in their lunch boxes.

Write a letter. Tell you wife to remind you about this one. Scapbooks!

Consider having dad sign Christmas cards and birthday cards.

Give your kids the opportunity to prove themselves trustworthy.
My dad gave me the freedom to drive my little sister around our farm in the old Ford Fairlane. I talked about this in my Howto Train Your Kids to use the Internet Safely.

9 year old driving 64 Ford Fairlane
Tech Time 


  1. Strong Passwords – change them
  2. Enable two step verification
  3. Always PATCH your operating systems, browsers, and applications
  4. Be aware of suspect web sites – social engineering
  5. Check for antivirus and malware – Use well know products and keep them current

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Technology Safety is more about Behavior than the Technology!

Being a Home School Family

Using home school to educate our children is another thing that makes our family unique. Homeschoooling adds to our family identity. Certainly homeschooling is not for every family, but what ever your education method, that adds to your family identity. Dads, you should be very active and intentional in choosing how your children will be educated. Don’t take the public school education program blindly without understanding if it is the right choice for EACH of your children. One child may be better servered by a private school. Another child within the same family may be better served by public education or home school.

Sherry and I are passionate about home school education. We enjoy helping families through their review of education choices. Sherry is a former 3rd grade public school teacher and now she has several years of homeschool teaching under her belt. This is another subject that we approach carefully and prayerfully. We encourage you to do the same. To help you decide if homeschooling is right for your family we have a new resource. If you choose homeschooling we will lead you through the mounds of choices with curriculum, resources, books, co-ops, and more. Our new online support group web site launched this week is called the Home School Support Network. The site is a Blog and Podcast for now. Eventually we will be adding video and possibly even a member area. The first episode of the podcast was just released this week. We are waiting on the iTunes review process to complete, but in the meantime you can get the introductory podcast episode via the HSSN RSS feed.

7 Security Tips for Windows XP

Why Windows XP? The data I have seen suggests that Windows XP is still alive and well and is still running neck-n-neck with Windows 7 to be the most popular operating system among Internet users. Analytics on my sites pretty much agree with w3schools and oh by the way, XP is what I had my hands on when writing this post. Similar tips for Windows 7 will be coming very soon.

There are some basic but very important security steps that you should follow on your Windows XP computer immediately. These are recommended regardless of whether you are allowing your child to use your PC.

  1. Install an antivirus program. Some options are McAfeeNorton, or Trend Micro
  2. Use a strong password. Your password should be at least 8 characters long and contain upper, lower, a number and a special character. You password should not contain any part of your login name or the computer name.  Here is a good password:  Il!ke2fly  That is a short sentence “I like to fly” crammed together into a nine character password. The number “2” substituted the word “to” and then with an exclamation point in place of an “I”.
  3. Install the latest “Software Updates” (this includes your operating system and applications)
  4. Right-click on your desktop and select “Properties”. Then click the “Screen Saver” tab. Select a screensaver choice from the drop down for the “Screen Saver” and Adjust the “Wait” setting to 15 minutes or less.
    Screen Saver Tab Win XP
  5. On the same window as above check the “On resume, password protect” checkbox.  
  6. Create a unique account for each user. Ricght-Click on “My Computer” and select “Manage” to display the following window. After navigating to the “Users” folder in the left pane, Right-Click inside the right pane and select “Add user”.
    User Manager Win XP 

    Fill in the form in the following Window that appears:
    New User Win XP

    Please refer to password  Bullet Point #2 for password recommendations. Allowing your child to set a simpler password may be required for the younger ones.
    Once you have created the new user then close the windows opened during this step.

  7. Install Internet filter and monitoring software.

What other simple suggestions do you have?  Do you disagree with any of the above?


5 iPhone, iPad, and iPod Security Settings for Parents

There are some basic settings that parents should configure on their iPhones, iPads, and iPods.  If you are the parent of older kids who have their own iPod, iPad, or iPhone then you should add these practices to the list of things you want to share and train them in while using their own devices. Please remember that kids are more likely to say what you say, do what you do, and they are less likely to do what you say. So set a good example and use these tips on your own devices.

1 – Lock the Screen

Go To:  Settings/General/Auto-Lock

I recommend you adjust this setting to “1 Minute” so that the device screen locks after one minute of inactivity. This prevents little kids from inadvertently accessing, deleting, or altering content on your device.

2 – Set a Password or Passcode

Go To: Settings/General/Passcode Lock

Select “Turn Passcode On”. Set “Require Passcode” to immediately so that the device cannot be used without the passcode once the device screen locks. This passcode will also be required to change the passcode settings in the future even if you allow your child to use the device unattended to play Angry Birds. The reason why on this one is obvious. Auto-locking the screen is useless if you are not going to require a password to unlock it. That would be like locking a door and leaving the key in the lock.

3 – Turn Off Unused Services

Got To: Settings/General/ [Bluetooth, Network, and/or Location Services]

If you are not using Network, Bluetooth or Location Services then go ahead and set them to “Off”. This prevents accidental access to unsafe networks and lowers your rick of getting hacked by someone who knows how to break into these services.

4 – Use Restrictions

Go To: Settings/General/Restrictions

There are a number of things that can be restricted, but I want to focus on content in this one. By default everything is allowed. This includes Allowed Content such as Explicit Music and Podcasts, Movies rated up to NC-17 (including R), and TV-MA. My wife and I don’t even view movies above a PG-13 rating so we certainly don’t want our kids accessing mature content via their iPod.

5 – Restrict In-App Purchases

This is related to the previous item, but warrants its own bullet in our house. This is the area where you restrict your kids from inadvertently buying something via those pop-up ads that kids like my little Caden enjoy clicking while playing Angry Birds.

Remember: Technology Safety is more about Behavior than the Technology!

Important Tips for Parents of Gaming Children

Gaming is becoming more and more embedded in children’s lives.  It is likely that your children will witness another child gamer in some form or fashion, whether it be an arcade, portable like a Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable (PSP) or iPod Touch, or home console.  It is almost inevitable that your child will eventually ask you for a video game system, if you haven’t gotten one already.  But if you are a parent that has never got into gaming, then there is a good chance that you still think video games are still a children’s toy.

I’ve been gaming since the early 80’s and I’ve definitely seen the evolution of video games in my time.  Since the days of the 8-bit pixels, games now-a-days are fully detailed textured polygons.  What does that mean?  It means everything looks real and sometimes it can look too real.  No different than computer technology, video games try to keep up with the hardware requirements.  As the hardware improves, so does the software and the storage media.  Video games now are comparable to a fully interactive movie, some complete with violence, gore, sex and adult language.  To many parents, whom are not gamers, think that these games or all games are designed for kids.  No.  These games are designed for adults that were once kid gamers.  During the Atari and Nintendo era, the graphics were very limited to blood and gore.  The technology the, didn’t have the capability to generate sound, so text was a form of story telling that had to be read.

In case you weren’t aware of it, many of all video games now have a rating system.  In the United States, the video game rating system is provided by the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board).  This board is not made up of gamers, but they are a group that reads the release of all games and it is the video game publishers responsibility to disclose any and all types of material to determine the proper rating for video games.  This rating system was implemented back in 1994, shortly after some controversial video games like Mortal Kombat (which showed a graphic image of a head being ripped off a man’s body, followed by blood spewing from the neck) along with several other games.  While Mortal Kombat at the time was initially an arcade coin operated game (later ported to the console), games like this started surfacing and some parents starting becoming concerned of what their children were playing.  Nintendo, for the longest time, would not license any games with excessive violence, blood, gore, smoking, drugs or sex until a rating system was officially in place.

While these rating systems have been around for almost 20 years, there are still parents out there purchasing games which I feel are not appropriate for younger children.  While I have no control for those parents that don’t care what their children do or play, this will be just a few personal tips that I can provide to help those parents who need a better understanding of what is an appropriate game for their children to play.  I feel most parents get painted in the corner by their children, “well Johnny’s parents bought him this game.”  While the parent’s think, “well, if Johnny’s parents did it, then it must be okay.”

Easy tips for parents who have very limited knowledge about video games.

Use the rating system printed on the box

It is very similar to movie and music warnings.  It is fairly obvious, E for Everyone, T for Teen (13+), M for Mature (17+) and AO for Adults Only (18+).  If you look on the back, it will go into detail to exactly what your kids will be likely exposed to.  The video game publishers and ESRB are very good at giving a detail of what content is in the box. It is very rare that I found a game that was misprinted.

Use the rating system web site
You can also visit their website (http://www.esrb.org/), if you want to look up the game before you make a trip to the store.


Online Gameplay
Many video games now provide an online service with the ability to play the games with other people.  Most online services are not rated by the ESRB, but are written into the online service provider’s End User Policy and Service Agreement.  Most of these services, like Playstation Network, XBox Live or MMORPG like World of Warcraft require the gamer to be at least 13 years of age and have a parents consent.  Be aware that your children have and will be exposed to other older children and/or adults playing these very same games.  They will be exposed to unmoderated voice and text conversations and there is a good chance they will hear content not suitable for their age.  Some of these services give some ability to limiting who they may chat with and how, but these settings are too complicated to configure if you aren’t well versed in understanding the system settings.  It is best to just avoid your children communicating unless you know they are just having one-on-one conversations.  Most of the console systems that do not have a microphone attachment, the conversations from the online players could be played from the television speakers, by default.

If you decide to go this route, read up on how to create private chats channel with your child and their friends.  This is the only way your child may play and chat with your child’s friend without listening to other conversations while in game.

Purchasing Games
Most of the stores like EB Games, Game Stop, Walmart or Best Buy have policies against selling games to underage children.  While it isn’t enforced like guns, alcohol or cigarettes, there will be a store that will sell one to an under-aged child.  This happens and I see it happen more often than most.  While also these same stores have  an open software return policy as well, meaning when you try to return software (e.g. video game software), they will not accept the return of an open video game package.  So, if you find out that your underage child purchased a game that you deem not appropriate, don’t expect to return to the store and expect a refund from the oblivious store clerk.  Be aware of your child’s game purchases, no different as if they were going in to buy inappropriate music or movies.


Purchasing Games Online
Xbox Live Marketplace and Playstation Store have services that allow you to buy games online.  Whether you secure your child’s online account with your credit card (this method is convenient, but risky) or you provide your child with a pre-paid card.  They will have the ability to download any game, movie or music that is available at these shops.  There are a few ways to handle this, first is to again, monitor what your kids are buying.  Help them spend their cards and avoid giving them the ability to buy a game outside your knowledge with an account assigned to a credit card.

Parental Settings on Consoles
This is the last and biggest tip.  If all else fails, this one is the most important one when you initially configure your child’s game system.  There is the ability to configure the game system to only allow certain rated games, movies or music to play on your child’s console.  Most of these rating features are embedded into the media, while it prevents your child from playing certain games or media, it will prompt for a passcode to allow you to play the higher rated games or media.

Most modern video games systems aren’t video game systems anymore.  Most people use it as their multimedia device, which allows you to do more than play video games.  I would think that if you are one of those parents who use this video game system more than a game system, then you probably know a lot more on how to protect your kids from playing games they shouldn’t be playing.

Video games are supposed to be fun for kids and adults.  Just some of these games aren’t made for kids and parents just have to understand that these video games are not toys anymore.

Larry Collette lives in South Korea with his wife and five children. He is a web applications developer for the US Federal Government, Military Veteran, Video Game Enthusiast, and a Mac/Linux user. You can read more about Larry on his about.me page and connect with him on Twitter.

HowTo Train Your Child to use the Internet Safely

9 year old driving 64 Ford FairlaneI began driving without direct adult supervision when I was age nine (9). I chauffeured my little sister (age 2) and my dog Duke all over our family’s 26 acre hog farm. I was not allowed to leave the farm and venture onto the country road that we lived on, but I could drive all over the farm as long as my parents were home and I asked permission before firing up the old baby-blue 1964 Ford Fairlane. As long as I drove safe and stayed within my boundaries, I was allowed to drive the Fairlane from time-to-time.

My guess is that most rural kids learned to drive in much the same way.  You probably started learning to operate the pedals, steering wheel, and shifter in a pasture, on a quiet country road, or in a giant abandoned parking lot.  Your parent or grandparent was right there at your side providing instructions, sometimes to the point of annoying you.  You trusted their advice because you had been witnessing their safe operation of this vehicle or others first-hand for nearly a decade or more.

After a while you arrived at the age of 15 and got your “Learners Permit” by taking a written examination.  You could only drive on the street during the day with a licensed adult driver in the front seat of the car with you. Then at age 16 you were eligible to take the practical driving test. This test consisted of driving around for about an hour with some stranger who made you perform like a circus animal. For the grand finale you demonstrated your parallel parking skills.

If all went well you were given a brand new a shiny red corvette convertible with no restrictions and a gas card with an unlimited balance.  Okay, maybe not.  Instead there were still restrictions and boundaries set on when you could take mom’s station wagon, where you were allowed to go, and when you had to be home. Violate any or all of the above and you might not have drove again for as long as you lived with your parents.

Safe Driving on the Internet

Training your child to use the Internet should be approached in much the same way that we were taught to drive a car:

  1. Demonstrate safe and responsible use of technology
  2. Start young and allow them to sit on your lap and operate the controls
  3. Start slow in a safe place when you do give them the controls
  4. Sit at their side and offer advice for a while
  5. Monitor their use of the technology
  6. Always maintain and communicate boundaries in your home
  7. Don’t be afraid to restrict access when the technology is misused

It is that simple. But don’t forget the Basics of Internet Safety involves much more than teaching the skills. A trusting relationship between you and your child will make it much easier for them to receive instruction and operate within your boundaries.   The basics will also set the stage for them to return to you when they are faced with something that they don’t understand or feel comfortable with while using technology.