Settings You Need to Know About to Protect Your Privacy

Settings You Need to Know About to Protect Your Privacy

Streaming devices like Smart TVs and streaming sticks put a world of entertainment, information, and communications at your fingertips. And your high-speed fiber internet from Medina Fiber delivers the streaming content reliably and without interruption. 

But as with any digital technology, your internet browsing, and viewing habits can leave a trace. From search engines like Google and browsers like Chrome to social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, and even streaming devices like Roku or Amazon Fire Sticks, tech can track and follow you. And they’ll use your data to make money.                      

Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your family’s privacy while using the internet and streaming. For example, enabling security settings and turning off certain features on apps and devices can enhance your privacy while improving your online streaming experience. 

Below, we highlight some of the simplest and most effective steps you can take to secure your family’s internet privacy better.

Search Engine and Browser Privacy Settings

When you use a search engine like Google or use Chrome, the popular web browser, your searches and browsing history are saved and stored. And some of the data you unknowingly leave behind is even processed into commercialized information used to target specific ads and other content to you. 

If you think that sounds a bit creepy, you’re not alone. 

However, Google offers simple solutions to this issue. First, head to your Google Account and click on “Data and Privacy.” Once there, go to “Web and App Activity” and toggle it off by switching it from blue to gray and then confirming your choice on the pop-up screen. That one change exponentially improves your privacy while browsing or searching on Chrome or other Google apps and platforms. 

You can also stop “ad personalization” in the same menu in your Google Account. Just scroll down to “Ad settings” and toggle that off from blue to gray and you’re all set.

Facebook and Instagram Privacy Settings

Billions of people use Facebook and Instagram to share photos and stay connected. And for many, both apps are so thoroughly integrated into their lives they can be hard to relinquish, even if you’d like to! So if quitting social media cold turkey isn’t in the cards for you, you can shore up your privacy on both Facebook and Instagram in just a couple of easy steps. 

The most common way Facebook and Instagram make money from you and your data is by selling information it collects about you. To prevent that, navigate in the app to “Settings & Privacy,” then click “Settings,” then “Ads,” then “Ad Settings,” and then “Data about your activity from partners.” Once there, turn off this setting by toggling from blue to gray. That will cease sending “personalized” ads based on your data. 

You can take the privacy features one step further. Turn off the “Face Recognition” feature, which analyzes people’s faces in the photos you post and view. 

To turn off this rather invasive-sounding technology, go to “Settings & Privacy,” then click “Settings,” then click on “Face Recognition,” and then click “No.” 

Just employing these setting adjustments alone will make navigating Facebook and Instagram more private and less unsettling.

Smart TV and Streaming Device Privacy Settings 

It’s not just apps and browsers keeping tabs on your online habits. Streaming devices do, as well. 

One of the most common ways Smart TVs and streaming sticks monitor and track your streaming habits is through Automatic Content Recognition (ACR). This technology “captures” images from the movies, shows, and other content you watch and the searches you input, whether entered by typing or through voice. 

While tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Roku disclose this to you as a part of their “Privacy Policy.” When you set up a device, you are generally “opted-in” to the data collection and ACR, so you must proactively turn the setting off to “opt-out.” 

Each device is a little bit different, but you should go to the device’s “Settings” and then look for “Privacy” (sometimes found after a menu tab for “Preferences” or “General”). 

Then, look for specific settings like “Device Usage Data,” “Collect App-Usage Data,” or “Share Analytics” and be sure they are off. 

Some devices let you turn on enhanced privacy settings, so look for terms like “Limit Ad-Tracking,” “Allow Apps to Ask to Track,” or “Opt-Out of Ad Personalization.” This will prevent the devices from tracking and sharing your data and information, giving you extra protection.  

These two simple steps, available on all popular streaming sticks and devices, will improve your streaming privacy. 

But don’t forget to exercise some common sense, too! For example, over-sharing of personal information, such as your birthday, location, and even common password terms like your pets’ names, make you more vulnerable. So be sure to remember your role in protecting your privacy online, as well. 

And for more helpful tips on navigating the web more safely and securely, follow Medina Fiber’s social pages. Or, learn more about our products

Use Software and Fiber Broadband Internet to Monitor Your Kid’s Online Use in Medina County

Use Software and Fiber Broadband Internet to Monitor Your Kid’s Online Use in Medina County

Every parent laments the inordinate amounts of time their kids spend in front of their screens and on their phones. From scrolling through social media posts and pictures, to sharing YouTube and TikTok videos, to seemingly endless threads of chat, text, and email messages, it can feel like there’s a never-ending flurry of online activity.  

So given the swaths of apps and digital content easily accessible by your children, what, if anything, can parents do to monitor their kids’ online activity? How effective are the remote monitoring software programs and apps at keeping them safe? And are they easy to use? 

Thankfully, technology has greatly advanced in recent years to let parents better observe and keep tabs on their children’s online activity and help protect kids, too, even when parents can’t hover over their children’s shoulders as they text away.  

At Medina Fiber, safety and security is our top priority, whether we’re in the field installing and maintaining our advanced fiber technology or when we’re working online.  

Below we explore four of the most popular and well-reviewed apps and software programs that can help you monitor and better control your kids’ online activity, whether they’re on their phones, laptops, or tablets. 

Norton Family

Part of the Norton line of outstanding digital security products, Norton Family offers a wide variety of features and options for monitoring and controlling your child’s online activity. Norton Family’s web content filter is noteworthy for its strong security (which parents can adjust and customize) and for a setting that enables your kid to request access from you to a blocked site or app in real time, making it more engaging as well as protective. We’re also impressed with the quality of its time-tracking and supervision feature, which can help you enforce homework time. Norton Family does not work on Macs, however. 

Bark

Bark is one of the most popular and overall highest-rated parental online monitoring apps. Adept at monitoring social media content instead of simply blocking it, Bark helps hone responsible online usage through its powerful algorithm, which detects concerning or questionable content. One of the more expensive options on this list, Bark’s unique features and advanced technology may provide additional peace of mind.

Qustodio

Customizable and loaded with features from strong app-blocking to displaying in-depth search term and browsing history information, Qustodio is consistently ranked one of the best overall parental online monitoring programs. Its sleek dashboard provides detailed overviews on your child’s online history and habits. Qustodio’s cool family tracker feature lets you keep tabs on any of your kids’ current location, and even see where they were earlier in a given day.

FamilyTime 

FamilyTime earned a place on this list because it is an especially solid option for iOS products (e.g., iPad, iPhone), which can be more persnickety about monitoring apps and software. It offers more features on iOS than most other similar apps, although per Apple’s rules, text messages cannot be monitored. FamilyTime also provides excellent GPS tracking to keep tabs on your kids’ location.  

Your neighbors at Medina Fiber take pride in helping to keep our community better connected and safer for children and families—and we hope we can help make parenting in today’s online interconnected world just a bit easier, too! 

For more helpful tips on navigating the web more securely and keeping your family safe online, follow Medina Fiber’s social pages.

How Fiber Broadband Internet Serves Rural Medina County

How Fiber Broadband Internet Serves Rural Medina County

Your neighbors at Medina Fiber understand that rural communities are a quintessential part of the American experience. And millions of Americans know that the friendly people and charms of country life make rural areas ideal places to raise a family. Indeed, over the last few years, hundreds of thousands of people have relocated from large cities to the cleaner air and amiable country lifestyle rural America offers. 

But compared to urban and suburban portions of the country, rural America still lags well behind in one fundamental area—consistent access to high-speed broadband fiber internet service. And this lagging access can affect job growth, economic development, workforce retention, and even education and community health.

The Value of Fiber Broadband—and Rural America’s Need to Catch-up 

According to a 2019 study by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 18 million rural Americans lack access to high-speed broadband internet. Other estimates from respected sources put the number at over 40 million Americans. Thus, unfortunately, there are underserved people and businesses in small towns and Tribal lands across the country and in every region.  

Rural broadband internet is critical to bridging that opportunity gap and improving country living. Whole communities can be revitalized and invigorated with fiber internet technology, improving communications and connectivity to the global economy. Schools of all grade levels through technical colleges and trade schools, as well as universities, can provide more programs, services, and training through broadband, reaching more people and promoting rural development.  

Indeed, broadband high-speed internet is as essential a community service in the twenty-first century as electricity, telephone or even water and other utilities! And Medina Fiber is proud to be a part of revitalizing our community and rural America by providing fast, reliable fiber broadband internet to its people and businesses.  

Below are just some of the ways fiber broadband serves rural America and helps make it an even better place to live. 

Faster and More Reliable Internet Means Greater Economic Growth and More Jobs

Increased access to high-speed internet, such as the fiber internet provided by Medina Fiber, is linked to boosting local job opportunities and economic growth. Through reliable broadband, local businesses like farms and artisans can reach customers well beyond their communities—even around the world.  

And high-speed internet lets these rural businesses more readily access goods and services that their competitors in larger metropolitan areas can already easily access. So bridging the broadband divide also helps grow and diversify the supply chain and squelch the overall economic gap between urban and rural areas, too.  

Additionally, rural broadband helps keep younger talent in their communities, rather than seeing them move away to larger cities. Because so many of today’s careers require access to reliable internet in order to conduct business, companies can—and do—hire talented people around the country and let them work where they already live, including remotely from home—as long as there is a reliable, fast internet connection. In this way, rural high-speed internet helps keep communities together and whole.

High-Speed Internet Helps Deliver Health Care to Rural Communities

As the COVID-19 global pandemic demonstrated, timely access to quality health care and medical interventions can make all the difference in saving lives and mitigating long-term health problems. But while cities and suburbs had greater access to health care facilities—including online medical care—rural communities do not have anywhere near the same level of access to such vital services.  

Bridging the broadband divide helps eliminate that fundamental disparity, and brings life-saving and life-changing health care to patients, as well. Telehealth providers, which grew exponentially during the pandemic, depend on reliable, high-speed internet to appropriately interview and assess patients and their immediate needs. And patient portals and electronic media files and records, which are often large files containing extensive medical imagery, require broadband to quickly transmit their essential information to physicians and patients alike.  

Thus, rural fiber broadband helps level the playing field for all health care consumers, regardless of where they live. And it helps keep rural and Tribal families healthy and provides peace of mind that their medical needs can be better met and served.

Relocation, Relocation, Relocation: Broadband Helps Turn Around Rural Communities

The flight of younger people from rural America is not a new story. It’s been happening for over a century, as bright and industrious students and workers seek to build their careers “where the jobs are”—i.e., in cities and metropolitan areas.  

Rural broadband is helping reverse that trend, however, through a more recent economic and social phenomenon: relocation.  

Relocation is centered on the idea that in today’s innovative economy, just about anyone can live and work from just about anywhere—anywhere there is reliable high-speed internet, that is. So for the millions of Americans yearning for the virtues of rural country living and its high quality of life, communities with rural broadband offer options for relocation to a town or village from which to work, raise their families, and live their lives.  

And relocation, through broadband internet service and other economic enticements, helps recruit talented younger people and reinvigorate communities that have been slowly dwindling away decade after decade. In essence, relocation is the reverse of the trend of moving away from rural areas—with broadband, people are now choosing to relocate and settle in rural America!  

At Medina Fiber, we believe that Medina County is a truly special place to live and work. And we are honored that our cutting-edge fiber broadband technology is expanding our community’s horizons and helping its people and small businesses realize their dreams and thrive in the decades to come.   

To learn more about how Medina Fiber’s high-speed fiber internet enriches your community and helps make you more productive, follow our social pages! Or, learn more about our products.

Broadband Internet in Medina Supports Tech and Work-From-Home

Broadband Internet in Medina Supports Tech and Work-From-Home

Today, more Americans are working from home than ever before. While broadband internet made it possible for millions to work remotely, the global Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the trend.

As the work-from-home movement has become a normal part of our lives, so too has the technology to enable it. From enhanced Wi-Fi range and speed to sleek Smart-Home gadgets to software and apps that improve collaboration among remote teams, working from home is a comfortable and productive way to work.

And with Medina Fiber’s fast and reliable fiber internet, you can feel just as much a part of the team while working at your own home.

Below we highlight some of the ways to utilize the technology available at home to make your remote work experience more productive and even more pleasant!

Using Alexa for Reminders and Timers—and Occasional Company!

When used creatively in the home workspace, Alexa can be more than just another device—it can be a work assistant and even a partner! For example, Alexa can connect to your digital calendar and remind you of meetings and deadlines. It can even read emails to you out loud, helping to break up the quiet and give your eyes a rest from the screen. You can also create to-do lists with Alexa and receive reminders at specific times.

Alexa can remind you to stand up and stretch and even take a few sips of water to stay hydrated. The variety of skills, games and other features can help you take a break or spur some creativity. Quick workout routines, meditations, and silly jokes can crack the monotony of the workday in ways not too dissimilar from workplace banter around the water cooler at the office.

Now, we’re not suggesting you give up on all other human contact! But Alexa’s features can help you stay on task, prevent yourself from falling behind, and encourage you to take breaks during the day.

Play Music in the Background

Since working from home can sometimes seem overly quiet, many experts recommend playing music in the background while you work. You can connect your Wi-Fi speakers to your laptop, phone, or tablet. Then stream from the music app of your choice, including popular options like Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Spotify.

Spotify has playlists of all kinds, from relaxing classical music to electronic beats. Curated by other users just for work, these playlists will keep you focused and improve your concentration. Or you can create and stream your own playlists to jam to when you need a break—after all, there’s no one to see you ham it up when you’re working at home!

Video Conferencing Builds Personal Connections and Improves Collaboration

You may have grown accustomed to using Zoom and other video conferencing apps to stay connected to friends and loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic. But you can use Zoom for more than just video calls and online Happy Hours!

Video conferencing can open opportunities to participate in work meetings and conference calls with large teams. You can almost feel like you are in the same room with your colleagues.

Zoom and other video conferencing apps encourage team building and foster more personal connections than emails and even traditional phone conference calls. And recent advances make video conferences more secure, as well. For example, Zoom now features advanced password requirements and “waiting rooms” to admit any potential participant, so you can be sure that only genuine conference invitees are present.

These are just a few ways that using the tech you have at home and on your devices can help make your remote work experience more enjoyable.

And for more advice and tips on being more productive using the high-speed fiber internet of Medina Fiber, be sure to follow our social pages!

Leverage Reliable Fiber Internet with Apps for New Parents

Leverage Reliable Fiber Internet with Apps for New Parents

A newborn baby brings blessings and joy to parents. And when the child is brought home, the lives of the new mom and dad are changed forever. As parents, they have more on their minds and plates than ever before.

Thankfully, there are apps to help new parents deal with the challenges of caring for a newborn. And with the fast, reliable fiber internet of Medina Fiber, help is just a click away on your phone, tablet, or computer!

From keeping tabs on baby’s sleep to ensuring proper nutrition and health, the apps below will help new parents get up to speed and feel more confident in the most important role of their lives.

Health and Medical App: WebMD Baby

Let’s face it: new parents are worrywarts. And given the tremendous responsibility in their hands, it’s completely natural!

It’s no surprise that many modern parents search the internet when something doesn’t seem right with their infant’s health. The internet is full of good and bad information, which can make it challenging to find reliable sources. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an app with trustworthy information for new parents?

WebMD Baby does just that. WebMD baby has lots of information specific to newborns and infants. Parents can access over 400 articles, dozens of videos, and more than hundreds of tips in numerous categories, from the basics of baby care to pediatric illnesses and health issues.

We’re impressed with the Baby Week-by-Week feature, which helps parents understand their newborn’s growth patterns and what to expect as the crucial first weeks and months go by.

Monitoring App: Baby Monitor 3G

New parents want to stay on top of their baby’s every breath, coo, and cry. But your newborn needs sleep (and so do you!), so you need to keep disturbances to an absolute minimum.

That’s where baby-monitoring technology comes in handy. Apps like Baby Monitor 3G can help you keep an eye on your baby, whether you are just across the hallway or miles away at the office.

Baby Monitor 3G connects your device over Wi-Fi or data to the monitoring camera you keep in your child’s room. The video feed is constant, and you can receive alerts and notifications whenever your baby utters a peep. It also lets you talk to your baby so they can hear your reassuring voice! Baby Monitor 3G connects to multiple phones and tablets so that both parents can check-in and observe their little one at any time.

Tasks, To-Do’s, and Tracking App: Baby Tracker

Perhaps the greatest challenge for new parents (beyond coping with the near-constant worrying and sheer exhaustion, of course!) is staying on top of the multitude of tasks and chores to meet their baby’s basic needs. It can get overwhelming. Establishing sleep schedules, prepping for bath time, just to name a few.

Baby Tracker is an all-in-one tracking app for keeping tabs on all the tasks new parents need to tackle each day of their baby’s first weeks and months. Feeding schedules, nap times, diaper changes, and more can all be logged and tracked to ensure nothing is missed. Baby Tracker also syncs between multiple devices so that both parents can stay abreast of her needs on their phones and tablets—and share in the responsibilities, too!

Sleeping App: Huckleberry

Sleep: your baby needs it.

And you need it.

While new parents may crave sleep more than almost anything, paying close attention to the amount of sleep a newborn gets is essential to thier health and growth. And Huckleberry, an app beloved by parents and pediatricians alike, can help you monitor and manage your baby’s rest while helping establish appropriate sleeping patterns.

Designed by sleep experts, Huckleberry lets you chronicle your baby’s sleep needs and schedules as they grow up. Huckleberry helps you determine your newborn’s sleep requirements as they grow and then stick to a regular, steady timetable of naps. In addition, Huckleberry’s SweetSpot feature can “predict” when your baby will need its next lie-down, helping to take the guesswork out of setting and keeping sleep schedules.

We hope these recommended apps make your first weeks and months of raising your new bundle of joy just a bit easier. And be sure to follow Medina Fiber’s social pages for more helpful tips on getting the most out of your high-speed fiber internet!