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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Taking the worry out of those summer vacation plans



It’s the summer! A time to re-charge, go away with the kids, or ship them off to camp and enjoy some much-needed peace and quiet!

Just a few years ago, we would tell a few close friends and neighbors that we were going away and share the pictures when we returned. These days, we’re letting the whole world know we’ll be away and we’re sharing everything that happens in real time. That can result in some significant risks to our personal safety and the safety of our home.

However, there are a number of steps we can take to minimize the risks. Here are a few tips for a worry-free family vacation. Share them with your kids, so they can also understand what to share and what not to share so everyone remains safe. Regard it as a teachable moment!

  • Don’t overshare your vacation on Facebook or other social networks. Check your privacy settings and, if you’re posting while away, make sure you are careful about who gets to see your updates.

  • Prepare your home before you leave town. Make sure you stop newspaper deliveries, and ask the Post Office to hold your mail until you return. Let your neighbors know that you’re going to be away, so they can pick up any local newspapers or circulars that are left in the driveway. Check every window and door in the house to make sure they are locked.

  • Back up important documents. Take pictures of your important documents and carry them with you in your smartphone – passports, driver’s license and credit cards – just so you can have a record of key numbers and can secure new documents in an emergency. You should also send them to a person back home who you trust, so they are still available if you can’t retrieve them yourself.

  • Travel only with the gear you know you will need. Why risk damaging or losing your laptop if you can use a tablet instead? A vacation is a great opportunity for you and your kids to disconnect. Limit the use of devices to just certain times of the day (e.g. a DVD player just before bed).

  • Plan your finances. Take credit cards and travelers’ checks to avoid looking for ATMs in remote destinations. Travelers’ checks also offer peace of mind as they can be replaced if lost or stolen.

  • Do not go online in random places around the world. While it’s tempting to go online in that “Internet Café” you stumble across in a strange city, it’s also the fastest way to expose passwords and other personal information. Be careful when logging on to Wi-Fi in unsecured locations and avoid banking or other sensitive transactions.

  • Check your online presence when you return. It’s always a good idea to check that nothing strange has happened to your online persona while you were traveling. Check Facebook, do a Google search, check your credit scores and Identity Guard for the kids to insure things are just as they were before you went away.

Here’s some more information from Identity Guard on how to have a worry free vacation.

Our family has enjoyed the peace of mind that comes with using security software such as Identity Guard and kID Sure and we highly recommend it as a way to protect your family from identity theft and other online threats. Visit their web site to find out more about their comprehensive safety plans.

The Online Mom receives a promotional fee for participating in certain promotional programs for Identity Guard. The opinions expressed in this blog are our own.



Comments:
Comment by David Malone, posted 7/7/2012, 3:11 AM:

Thanks for that excellent article. The advice about accessing your normal sites through internet cafes really applies to me. Can I suggest that we all review our passwords when we get back off holiday. I would love to hear your thought on password review in general as I have so many.

Also could I add something in terms of house security. Homeowners should resist the desire to leave the house pristine when they leave. place toys/mags around the house as if you are still there.
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