(BPT) - Resourceful thieves and cybercriminals continue to find new ways to hack U.S. consumers’ sensitive personal information. Dumpster diving, stolen or lost wallets and mail fraud should still be concerns, but the digital age of tablets, smartphones, PCs and Wi-Fi networks leaves people more vulnerable than ever.
Have you ever stored credit card information on your phone for added convenience to make payments in a checkout lane? Do you ever store passwords in apps to transfer funds between accounts? And what’s to keep hackers from accessing a wireless network you check your email on while you’re grabbing a quick cup of coffee?
”More than 15.4 million people a year will experience identity theft, with an average loss of more than $1,000,” said Jane Li, Mercury Insurance’s director of product management. “When one access point closes due to added levels of security, cyberattackers find another. Insurance companies like Mercury provide services that allow homeowners and renters to enjoy the convenience of accessing their connected devices at home and on the go, while also helping to protect customers from the potentially devastating effects of criminal infiltration, cyberextortion and identity theft.”
The following five do’s and don’ts can help stop criminals in their tracks and protect your connected devices, as well as your electronic identity.
Li recommends homeowners and renters speak with their local insurance agent to learn more about the endorsements they may be able to add to existing policies to help safeguard their finances if their identities are compromised or connected devices are attacked.
“It can be daunting to try to regain your financial footing if a criminal takes advantage of you,” said Li. “Insurance exists to help protect consumers from unexpected events and, in this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
In the context of cyber security, an action by an unknowing child can impact the entire family. While there are plenty of parental controls and blocks available, they aren’t foolproof. Educating children about the potential risks and how to avoid them can go a long way toward protecting your family from potential cyber problems. Open up a conversation with your children about cyber security with these tips.
5 Tips to Make Sense of Cyber Security
(Family Features) It’s no secret that kids have a sense of invincibility. While that trait can bring some endearing reminders of the innocence of childhood, it can also have some highly unfortunate consequences. In the context of cyber security, an action by an unknowing child can impact the entire family.
The majority of U.S. households are filled with devices that pose a potential threat to your personal security. In fact, according to the 2016 Global Consumer Security Survey by Trend Micro, nearly half of households have two or more computers and nearly a third have three or more smartphones. That means the opportunities are plentiful for missteps to occur.
Despite the many benefits of a highly connected world, the potential for danger is strong. The same study found that 65 percent of respondents’ computers had been infected with a virus or malware. Other concerns included damage or loss of files, children viewing inappropriate content, cyberbullying and ID or password theft.
While there are plenty of parental controls and blocks available, they aren’t foolproof. Educating children about the potential risks and how to avoid them can go a long way toward protecting your family from potential cyber problems.
Open up a conversation with your children about cyber security with these tips from the experts at Trend Micro:
Explore more ideas to keep your kids and family safe online at internetsafety.trendmicro.com.
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(BPT) - Modern technology has revolutionized many aspects of our day-to-day lives. While it is hard for some to imagine a day without social media, smartphones and Wi-Fi, these were not available a mere 20 years ago. Technology has revolutionized the way we order food, purchase clothes and read books.
“Technology used to be considered a separate entity from arts and crafts,” said Stephanie Leichtweis, CEO of Fibre-Craft, a leader in creative activities. “We believe it is vital to incorporate these together, and are working to meld tech innovations with artistic expression to provide a nuanced version of online and offline activities.”
To see the full influence of technology on arts and crafts, Fibre-Craft has outlined some ways that classic crafts have been redefined by technology:
Art projects used to be inspired by books, classes and our own imagination. The world we found ourselves in dictated our crafts of necessity and the ones for fun. With the advent of social media, inspiration and creation are driven from many different platforms.
The way that we participate in arts and crafts has changed as we garner ideas from others and share ours with those not only in our neighborhood but around the world. "DIY and crafts" is one of the top three most-pinned and most-browsed categories on Pinterest, one of the leading platforms for inspiration, along with YouTube.
A recent survey found that nearly 40 percent of adults who worked on an arts and crafts project found inspiration on YouTube, and one in three turned to Pinterest. And when complete, individuals can also share their own finished pieces to inspire others as well!
Coloring + painting redefined
Coloring has been a pastime for decades; the first coloring book was published in the 1880s. It is a great activity for children, as it can provide hours of entertainment and is easy to take on-the-go. Just as painting “by numbers” updated a classic art form in the 1950s, newer technologies are giving coloring and painting a 21st-century twist.
The newest way to color has arrived with the launch of an art/tech hybrid — DabitZ. The latest series from Fibre-Craft, DabitZ merges the artistic spirit with innovative technology to take classic coloring to new heights with “dabbing.” Starter sets come with everything you need to try this photomosaic art form and to make your own masterpiece. DabitZ is inspired by the painting technique called Pointillism, so users don’t need to be talented artists to “dab it up.” Starter sets include templates called DabDesignZ, and the free DabitZ app can transform any picture into a template design as well. Simply take a photo, create a template, print it and dab it up, connecting technology to offline play and the world around us.
Capturing photographs is a treasured tradition that helps keep memories alive long after the moment has passed. As camera phones have become ubiquitous, they have reinvented how photographs are taken, shared and viewed. No longer do you have to wait to return from an adventure to share your activities — you can post on social media in the moment! And with high-quality lenses on phones and filters on apps, you can create images worth 1,000 words — and likes.
“Smartphones have made photographers out of all of us, and opened a range of possibilities,” Leichtweis said. “With the new DabitZ app, everyone can take photography to the next level and create their own personal masterpiece.”
Homemade gifts are one of the most treasured items to receive from a loved one, especially from a child. As they grow, many children provide handcrafted items to relatives, who can treasure these items for years to come.
Handmade items are increasingly trendy in home décor, fashion and foodstuffs. Those with special talents are able to capitalize on their craft, thanks to new online stores and marketplaces. This growing trend is a wonderful way to support artisans and causes whether at home or a world away.
With new updates to technology, how we create arts and crafts will continue to change as well. To try the latest arts update, visit www.DabitZart.com or www.FibreCraft.com.
(BPT) - With new game consoles, mobile devices and interactive experiences arriving just in time for the holidays, video games are certain to make the "most wanted" list for gamers of all ages. With so many choices, parents can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed trying to decide which games are appropriate for their children to play.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), the non-profit organization that assigns age and content ratings for video games, is an excellent resource for helping parents navigate both the real and virtual game aisles. The familiar ESRB ratings including E (Everyone), T (Teen) or M (Mature) are now also assigned to downloadable games and apps in Google Play, Microsoft's Xbox Live store, Nintendo eShop and the PlayStation Store.
ESRB offers the following tips for parents looking for the console games or mobile apps that are perfectly suited to their family:
1. Check the rating. Start with the recommended age rating. ESRB assigns E (Everyone), E10+ (Everyone 10 and older), T (Teen), M (Mature) and AO (Adults Only), which are clearly labeled on video game boxes or on the game's page prior to downloading from an online or mobile storefront.
2. Review the content descriptors. ESRB uses about 30 different content descriptors for depictions involving violence, suggestive or sexual themes, language, controlled substances and other types of content to help parents understand what may have triggered a particular age rating.
3. Look for interactive elements. Interactive elements describe certain aspects of a game or app that may be of interest to many parents and consumers, and can be assigned to downloadable games and apps. These include the sharing of the user's location, if the game or app enables the purchase of digital goods, if users can interact and/or if unrestricted internet access is provided.
4. Set parental controls. Today's gaming devices have parental controls built in, which allow parents to block titles by age rating, ensuring children can access only age-appropriate games and apps. Depending on the device, parents can also control specific features like with whom their children can play online and whether in-game purchases can be made. Just make sure you never reveal your password or PIN!
5. Do your research. Check ESRB rating summaries at ESRB.org, which provide a more detailed explanation of content in many packaged games. Forget to check the rating summary before you set out on a gift-getting expedition? No problem - you can find rating summaries for packaged games on the ESRB app as well! If you still want more information, online reviews are another great resource. These often include screenshots, videos and other details that parents may find helpful in making a final purchase decision.
You can also always talk to your local video game retailers - they're often staffed with experienced gamers who can help guide parents toward the right games for their family. For downloadable games and apps, parents may want to review the details on the product's page and some of the user reviews before downloading.
Perhaps most importantly, have fun! If you're not already a gamer, try it - you might like it! Not only is it a great way to bond with your children, it allows you to share and better understand one of their passions. Never underestimate the value of playing as a family; enjoying games together enables you to engage in an ongoing conversation with your children about the games they want and love to play.
(BPT) - When it comes to parenting, there are as many styles as there are stars in the sky. It doesn't matter if you're a known helicopter parent or you prefer detachment parenting methods, there's one thing everyone can agree on: You want to parent with compassion and confidence.
Every mom knows that managing a family can be a full-time job. Throw in your career and a social life and you might find yourself asking: how do some parents make it look so easy? There's no magic formula, but there are a few strategies that these 'Total Boss Moms' implement to manage those hectic days. Take it from an expert:
"Being a total boss mom means juggling a chaotic schedule with ease - like a boss," says Tamera Mowry, actress and host of 'The Real' talk show. "When I'm running a mile a minute, I rely heavily on my smartphone to help me manage my days."
Here are five tips for parenting like a total boss that will help you stay organized, cut wasted time and save money:
Prep early and often
Packing lunches, organizing backpacks, prepping dinner - staying on top of all the day's to-do's can be overwhelming. The best way to reduce stress and stay organized is to do as much as you can early. That means use Sunday night to chop vegetables for the week's lunches and dinners. Pack backpacks and pick out clothes the night before. Finally, parents who get up before their kids have a few moments of silence to shower, read the paper and get a cup of coffee down before the little ones wake.
Stay connected to stay in charge
Being connected is essential to being a boss. Fortunately, that doesn't require an expensive mobile plan. Starting at $35 a month, Total Wireless offers unlimited talk and text plus 5GB of 4G LTEâ€ data with no contracts or hidden fees. Plus, with nationwide coverage on America's largest and most dependable network, you have confidence you're always connected. Learn more at www.totalwireless.com.
Stay organized with a central calendar
When parents and kids all have different obligations, it means schedules can get chaotic. Set up a shared electronic calendar that both you and your partner can access to see what the day holds. If possible, use color coding and other sorting tools to designate items for each family member. Then set alarms and always make sure you can access this calendar on your smartphone throughout the day.
Use group texts to save time
Save time and stay up-to-date by using group texts to communicate quickly with multiple people. "I have a group text with the girls from 'The Real,'" Mowry says. "A busy mom doesn't have a lot of time, so being able to streamline those conversations about work and personal life is a real time-saver. This way everyone is on the same page and we can plan things outside of work easily, too."
Stay healthy with the help of your smartphone
It can be easy to overlook your own needs between everything you manage, but they're just as important. "I use the fitness apps all the time. As a busy mom, I need to make sure I'm staying healthy," says Mowry. "I can keep track of the calories I'm burning on my phone. I can also make sure all the food items I'm buying at the store are healthy for my family."
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