Is Public WiFi Safe?

Public WiFi is any network connection that doesn't require a pass code or key code to access. They are open to anyone who is within range. Devices such as cell phones, tablets and laptops will pick up a signal and begin to connect with it if their WiFi setting is turned on. It makes no difference if the signal is being transmitted from a person's home, the local coffee shop or a local business.

The question of safety is always on your mind when dealing with your children and your financial information. With more and more teens having internet capabilities on their cell phones and other devices, parents are concerned with the safety of public WiFi networks. The problem is not with the networks, so much as with the devices being used to connect with it.

Who Can Connect With Public WiFi

Once an internet signal is set up and broadcasting, anyone can access it that has the pass code or access to the router. If there is no code, anyone can pick it up. This includes

  • your children

  • your neighbors

  • people passing by in vehicles

  • people walking within a certain distance

  • hackers

  • scammers

The truth is that the internet is generally harmless. It's the users that can cause it to be “unsafe”. The majority of the people who use public WiFi networks do so for their own personal needs. They aren't trying to scam or harm anyone and they normally try and keep to themselves. There are others, however, who try to retrieve your financial information, learn about your family situation, delve into personal matters and, in some cases, other types of illegal activity.

How To Protect Your Teen Internet Users

 There are several ways to protect yourself and your family from unwanted predators who use public WiFi networks for the wrong reasons. In your home, the answer is deceitfully easy. Place a pass code on your internet router. This means the only ones who can access your network, are those that you personally have given the pass code to. For networks out of your control, there are other ways you can protect your family:

  • Most electronic devices, especially laptops and tablets, come with a parental control system. Utilize it to its fullest extent, including setting time limits and monitoring what types of websites are visited using the device.

  • Teach your teens to watch for HTTPS addresses when it comes to websites, email, etc. HTTPS means that the website was transmitted over a secure network. Unlike HTTP addresses that allow anyone on your network to snag the cookies on your computer and login to personal accounts without a password.

  • Don't trust paid hotspots. Just because you pay to use them it doesn't mean they are secure. It only means the company wants you to share in paying for the monthly internet bill. While some may include a modest level of security, anyone who pays to access the network is able to interact with your device in a variety of ways.

  • Turn off network sharing – Many music sites request that their users share their files. This is not mandatory even if they make it sound like it is. Make sure you deny requests to share your files on every device. This protects your personal, as well as your financial information.

  • Turn off the “automatic connect” setting on all your devices- By turning off the “automatic connect” setting, this disables your device from being picked up by open networks as you go in and out of their specific coverage areas.

  • Install anti-virus programs that monitor incoming data for malware, spyware and other types of fictitious programs. While it may not necessarily protect your children, it will protect your devices.

  • Teach your children well! Most teens understand the importance of maintaining a required level of privacy. Teach them what to watch out for in the way of unsolicited emails and program requests. Let them know what types of information can be shared and what information is to be kept private.

    Kids today are smarter than ever. In fact, they may realize something is up with their electronic devices long before you do. If they are going to be using public WiFi, letting them know what to watch for and taking some proactive steps on your own can keep them safe from harm.  


We are pleased to announce that Bark will be taking over where we leave off. The uKnowKids mission to protect digital kids will live on with Bark. Our team will be working closely with Bark’s team in the future, so that we can continue making the digital world a safer, better place for kids and their families. While we are disappointed we could not complete this mission independently, we are also pleased to hand the uKnowKids baton to Bark.
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