Bringing passwords to the pie table for unconventional holiday discussions

Emma McGowan 21 Nov 2023

Are you ready to sit down for mashed potatoes and cringe-worthy dialogue? Neither are we. Get ready for the holidays with our list of conversation starters that will keep your family safer and keep you from sitting through an interrogation.

Amidst the festive cheer and mountain of carb-loaded dishes of holiday get togethers, it's common to engage in conversations that span from reminiscing about the good ole days to your love life and unexpected career change. Lucky for you, we have the solution to this awkward chit-chat.  

Have you ever thought about discussing cybersecurity and online safety at the dinner table? Hear us out. It might not be the most conventional topic, but it's essential in today's digital age. Here's a list of interesting and educational topics to bring up with your family during the upcoming gatherings, along with some additional tips.

"Are the kids online yet?"

It's a question that's often tossed around when family members come together. With younger generations growing up in a world dominated by phones, tablets, laptops, and gaming consoles, it's crucial to ensure they stay safe at every turn. 

Tip: Emphasize the importance of parental controls and monitoring their online activities. The last thing you want is for your little cousin to stream the craziest content from Ohio. (You can ask the kids what that means as an extra conversation starter). It’s never too early for parents to set up strong passwords for their children's devices and establish rules for sharing personal information online. You can also chat with them about some additional safety steps to take when navigating the digital world.

"How many digital devices do you have now?" 

Yes, even Grandma carries around a smartphone now. But the number of connected devices in our homes has skyrocketed in recent years, and it’s almost hard to keep track of them all. Like, does the vacuum robot that keeps scaring the cat count? But this conversation isn’t about owning them. It's about keeping them secure. 

 Tip: Use this as an opportunity to discuss the importance of device security and to go through the latest Avast Threat Reports together. You should always encourage family members to keep their devices updated with the latest software and security patches. You can also stress the significance of using strong, unique passwords for each device and enabling two-factor authentication where possible. 

“Do you use public wifi a lot?” 

 This question is a two-parter. If the answer is yes, you should follow up with “Do you use a VPN?” And if they say no to that, well, you may have some work to do. Many people are unaware of the risks associated with public wifi networks. Bringing this topic up offers you the opportunity to educate your family on the dangers and how to protect themselves. 

Tip: The only thing better than listening to Grandma ramble on about her secret to achieving the perfect crust on a buttermilk pie is helping a loved one learn what a VPN is and how it works. Because while they enjoy connecting to the free coffee shop internet, so do hackers. That means that all the information they send and receive, including passwords and other personal data, could be seen by a spying cybercriminal. That’s why they need an extra invisible layer of security! 

“When was the last time you updated your software?” 

Another pesky notification? IGNORE!  

Or, at least, that’s what most people do. Software updates are often seen as an annoyance not worth a second glance, but they actually play a vital role in keeping our personal information locked up tight and out of reach to cybercriminals.  

Tip: It’s time to remind your family that they shouldn’t hit “Remind Me Later.” Inform them of the reasons why software updates are essential to not only keeping your machine running smoothly but also for protection! Taking the extra few minutes out of your day (or doing it while Uncle Dave tries to YouTube how to carve a turkey) can actually help protect against malware, fix bugs, patch security flaws, and much more. 

“Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?”

Okay, so this one may not seem related to staying safe online. But it is! (Sort of) 

We’re all for a family-friendly debate during the holidays, and this might be the most controversial one out there. Ask your loved ones for their opinion on the matter, and then sit back and let out an evil laugh as you watch the chaos unfold.

Tip: If everyone is on the same page, or you’ve at least kept them from storming out of the house in a fit of rage, the holidays are the perfect time for watching a movie with the family. Just be sure to stream safely! Start by choosing an authorized viewing method. Sorry, this often means paying! Then, think before you click any suspicious pop-ups, and always use security software that will block dangerous sites before they cause any serious harm. 

While the holiday season is a time for celebration, connection, and consuming way too many sweets, it's also an opportunity to empower those around you with the knowledge and tools to stay safer online. So, enjoy your festive gatherings, and have plenty of cyber-centered conversations!  

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