Until a few years ago, maybe a decade ago, the concerns parents had when their children reached adolescent age, apart from issues related to studies, focused on things like the first consumption of alcohol, flirting with drugs, risks to unprotected sex, night fights after a night of partying, etc.
Nowadays, without a doubt, this continues to sound to all of us who are fathers and mothers of adolescents and young people, but with one caveat, the concern, if possible, is even greater. Why? Do they get drunk more? Do they take more drugs? Do they fight more? The answer is no.
The error of documenting everything with the smartphone
The problem is that now they have the habit of documenting everything with their cell phones, both good and bad, and so, what formerly could have been a “bad night”, today can accompany them for the rest of their days.
Yes, it is what we know as fingerprint. And as confirmed by the study conducted empantallados.com , just that, overexposure on the Internet, is the main concern that families have today, over abusive use or other risks such as cyberbullying or grooming . And it makes all the sense, since making unsafe or problematic use of the internet or social media is what can bring as a consequence the rest of the dangers associated with new technologies.
We know that WhatsApp, Instagram and YouTube are the applications most used by teenagers and young people. But we also know that 98% of those who browse the internet at 15 years old only a third do so in a non-problematic way .
Supervise the personal trail of the children
If, in addition, we think that, as confirmed by 61% of parents, they bought the devices when they were between 11 and 12 years old , the need to supervise and control at those ages the personal trace that can be left by the network is very necessary.
But, as Voltaire said, “let’s start by clarifying the terms.” What do we understand by fingerprint? It would be all the traces we leave when surfing the internet : the comments we make on social networks, photographs or videos that we upload to platforms, likes in publications, downloads of apps , Skype calls, use of instant messaging , email records … an online history that can potentially be seen by other people or stored in a database.
The indiscreet trail
We also need to know that the way mobile devices work currently causes them to generate a more indiscreet fingerprint. The smartphones reduce the ability of users to connect anonymously because they are developers who have all control information being sent to other services or terminals.
Moreover, many times localization services are enabled by default, or are included in a set of permissions that are requested to the user when installing the application, so that we could be geolocated at the moment by any person.
In addition to this, there are so-called metadata that are implicit in the photographs and videos that we take with our devices. They know information such as what time the image was taken, on what date, with what telephone and in what location.
And, having said that, the time comes “crisis”: could any person with minimal computer knowledge (without having to be a cybercriminal , go) take this information from our content on social networks, blogs or forums, which previously had been downloaded to your computer? The answer is yes and no. Or it depends.
Who keeps the metadata
As confirmed by Javier Solueta , expert in cybersecurity and risk analysis for companies, there are platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter that take more care of their users’ privacy and delete metadata from photographs and videos before being published in their profiles (although they keep that information, eye, in order to “improve their services and develop others”). But others, like Flickr or Tumblr, or even Google itself, no, since they do not alter the files and keep all the metadata.
But metadata is not only found in photographs or videos, but is present in any type of digital file, including texts or PDFs, so when thinking about taking care of our fingerprint and possible reputational crises that we can cause, we should also think about any content that we upload to the network.
In the case of computers or laptops, everything is much simpler, since we can surf in private or delete cookies , eliminating all traces of our onlinefootprint , except for the contents or files that we upload to the platforms.
Habits of “hygiene” in cybersecurity
For all this, it is more than necessary to develop habits of basic “hygiene” in the field of cybersecurity; and this is something that we must learn at home and develop adults, to then be able to educate our children digitally:
– Do not stay with the default or preconfigured settings of apps and platforms in which we register, but customize them according to our needs.
– Read the privacy policies before accepting them (Yes, you can!).
– Use different emails, one for professional or personal issues, and another for online purchases or social network settings.
– Use a prepaid card for eCommerce or a credit card other than the one normally used.
– Use robust passwords to block devices and access personal applications or accounts, and, if possible, also use two-step verification.
– Keep the devices always updated and with antivirus systems.
News and updates
And, undoubtedly, the best thing to avoid risks is to know and keep up to date with news and updates in relation to new technologies. What are the types of phising that are being used recently to steal information from us, have there been hacks to large platforms? Has our privacy or our data been compromised?
Because, although we can always claim Google using our “Right to Oblivion” , we must know that of the 249,564 applications or requests for removal of URL or deleted 76,947 that have received from Spain (www.facebook.com, www.twitter. com and www.youtube.com are among the domains of most of the URLs that have been removed from the “search” of Google), only 44.6% has been carried out.
So, as if it were a disease, it is better to prevent than to cure!
Author Bio: Laura Cuesta Cano is Responsible for Communication and Digital Education in PAD Servic at Camilo José Cela University