Too many people underestimate the danger of the Internet. Here’s how to keep your money and your family safe.
Be Careful Where You Click
Any time I speak to groups about technology, I start with this uplifting thought: The Internet is a dangerous place–more dangerous than the offline world. We’re quick to avoid the bad areas of town and we certainly wouldn’t send our children to high-crime areas but we’ll go to just about any place online and we’ll allow our children to explore website after website without our watchful eye.
The stats are staggering. 50% of teens post personal information, 45% interact with online strangers, and we know that sexual predators find most of their victims online. Click here to read more of these stats.
How about adults? Porn sites get more traffic than Amazon, Netflix, and Twitter combined and nearly 70% of men and one-third of women see online pornography as acceptable although there’s a mountain of research showing the damage it inflicts on viewers and their relationships.
Then there’s something out that worries me greatly. We’re far too quick to trust anything we read online. When asked, most people will say that they don’t trust the information they read online but a quick look at your Facebook newsfeed proves that people are trusting most of what they read.
As somebody in the media business, let me set you straight: Reporters who report on new data aren’t reading the actual study. They’re reporting on what somebody else said about the data. That might not be a big deal if you’re reading about the plot of the next blockbuster movie but if you’re making decisions that impact your family, that’s a HUGE deal!
How to Stay Safe
Now that you know about the problems, we can set out to solve them. The good news is that staying safe isn’t very difficult.
- Don’t let your children browse the Internet alone. It’s your job to be annoyingly in their business all of the time. You should have their verified usernames and passwords for every site they’re on.
- Don’t delete your Internet history without first showing your spouse or accountability partner–especially if you’ve had problems with looking at the wrong things in the past.
- Ask your bank about one-time-use credit card numbers. Most banks have a program for this. Apple Pay is another secure way to shop. Check out this article for more information.
- Don’t believe ANYTHING you read online until you’ve independently verified it. If the author cites a study, read the study. If they cite a fact, find it on your own.
- Only use reputable websites. Somebody’s blog (including mine) isn’t higher quality data than the original source of the information.
- Be aware of your hurts, habits, and hangups and stay FAR away from anything online that could feed those issues. I’m a hypochondriac so I never read medical information online.
- Use a password that has nothing to do with you personally. Hackers can find your birthday and your address very easily. You should have letters, numbers, and symbols. Use a password manager.
I don’t mean to scare you but you need to know all of this. Please do not see the Internet as a safe, anonymous place. It’s far from it but just like your offline life, if you understand the threats, you can more easily avoid them.
Have a question about retirement or something else going on with your money? Click below to ask me. I respond to all questions.