Well, it’s finally happened. One of my children has a smart phone and now the realities of internet security are really hitting home for me. Granted, it should have hit home when they got their first computer…or the tablet…or maybe the other tablet…but it never truly did. At least with those devices, I was able to keep an eye on them, monitor what sites they were on, and keep a watch for information they were sharing.

With a phone though, things are not quite as simple (not that physically monitoring was simple.) Internet usage will now be connecting to open Wi-Fi hotspots and I won’t be able to track where she is sharing information or have an idea of who might be watching her information. To be honest, I wouldn’t be able to do this from home either.

Here’s the thing. I write about my kids on the internet all the time. Since my first was about one year old, I’ve had a fairly popular blog about parenting and I was always careful to hide my kids’ name, school, and location from the creepers of the world. Even I needed a filter though, as my wife was always better about spotting the times I’d forget. That was about the extent of the protections I took for privacy. That’s about to change though.

When I started looking into a VPN (Virtual Private Network), I didn’t really know exactly what I needed it for. So, here’s a quick rundown of what it does so you don’t also have to go searching. When you connect to the internet, you are using your IP address. People can monitor this, know where you are connecting from, know your browsing habits and if they are very malicious, steal your passwords, CC information and all that fun stuff.

A VPN takes your browsing, and makes you completely anonymous. When you’re using it, it’s basically like a mask for your browsing. Instead of connecting from your IP address, it re-routes you to someplace new and exotic! Want to be watching Netflix from Japan? No problem! Why order that Shake Weight from home, when you can appear to be ordering it from….Melbourne! You get the picture. It hides your actual location, keeping you and your browsing habits anonymous and encrypting your data when it’s sent out into the unknown.

Not only that, whenever you’re using public Wifi, you’re pretty vulnerable. Even the greenest of hackers would be able to see what you’re up to and therefore be able to grab things that you might not want out there. Using HotSpot Shield, the VPN I’m currently loving, keeps you protected. I can’t just stand around in every coffee shop she goes into, like some internet bouncer. This is what I need for my kiddos. I don’t want anyone getting an eye on their habits and making them unsafe from scams or worse. It’s bad enough I know how much time they spend on Minecraft, I don’t need internet strangers in on the secret too.

So now that my daughter has her first phone, I’m glad that I’ve started using HotSpot Shield. It alerts me when sites are not to be trusted, because I know she doesn’t know enough to avoid certain ones. This is awesome not JUST for her devices, but for my own! I didn’t realize how open I had been in the past and how easily people could have been keeping tabs on what I do and share. Not only that, but having HotSpot Shield has also opened sites I wasn’t able to access in the past! Netflix Canada, it’s time we became acquainted! I love having these new show options on my list now.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a sponsored post on behalf of AnchorFree and their HotSpot Shield, however the crazy URL’s I visit are all mine. For more on AnchorFree, check them out HERE, on Facebook and Twitter.