To the Editor:

The average American household has five connected devices, according to the Pew Research Center. This includes those served by a high-quality nationwide wireless network like the one in West Plains.

June is Internet Safety Month and U.S. Cellular is reminding consumers who use these devices to put proper safeguards in place to protect themselves and their families from potential threats to their online safety.

A few safeguards to consider include:

- Making sure all mobile devices are password-protected. A PIN, fingerprint or facial recognition should be required to unlock devices and access downloaded apps. 
- Visiting secure sites only. Look for the small lock icon on the status bar of the browser, a trusted seal like TRUSTe or VeriSign and websites that begin with “https.”
- Using firewalls. Mobile devices should have antivirus, antispyware, antispam security and a personal firewall. 
- Keeping information secure. Avoid saving credit card and contact information online by checking out as a guest and monitor which applications ask for location services to disable access as appropriate. 
There are also ways to help foster digitally responsible actions among children and teens. Talk openly about the dangers that exist online and the risks of oversharing. Consider establishing expectations relative to screen time, data consumption, oversight, mobile manners and acceptable social media and gaming sites.

To learn more, stop by local U.S. Cellular stores and speak with a tech expert. A resource for families who are introducing a child to their first device is also available at ChildPhoneAgreement.com.

Kim Osborn,

sales manager for U.S.

Cellular in West Plains

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