Chromecast is a wonderful device. Just by plugging this little device into your TV’s HDMI port, you open a whole world of media streaming opportunities, but you should be aware of the dangers that come along with this.
This is especially true during the holiday season when you have family visiting and you’re streaming media to different TVs. If you have a single Chromecast plugged into any of those TV sets, you have a privacy issue you should be aware of. If you have more than one Chromecast device on multiple TVs, then the issue is even more serious.
The bottom line is this: the great thing about Chromecast is that it’s simple, fast and easy to use. However, as you’ll see, this is also its achilles heel when it comes to privacy.
Sharing Embarrassing Messages
In this first scenario, I’m going to describe to you how, with Google Cast, you can easily share sensitive (and very embarrassing) private online conversations with everyone in your house if you’re not careful.
Google Cast places a convenient icon in your Chrome browser letting you stream your current tab to the TV screen where the Chromecast device is installed.
This is really useful if you’re sitting around with family and you want to watch a YouTube video or a Netflix movie together. You can stream the tab and play the movie.
The issue that can arise though, could be what happens once the movie is over. You might leave your laptop on and the TV still displaying whatever is going on inside that browser tab.
Then, without thinking, you later walk over to your laptop, open up Facebook, and send a seemingly private Facebook message to another family member.
Little do you know, the conversation is showing up large and in living color on the living room TV screen.
Congratulations, you’ve just insulted grandma in front of the entire family.
Accidentally Sharing Your Mobile Screen
There is a really useful app that you should install on your Android if you have a Chromecast, called Screen Stream Mirroring.
This app lets you not only stream video or web browser content, but you can literally mirror your entire mobile screen to your television.
This is a really cool feature if you want to to show someone how to do something, or if you just want to share the content of an email or Facebook post with someone in the room.
However, if you forget that you’ve got the app running in the background, you could end up sharing every single thing that you’re doing on that phone with every person who’s watching the TV. They could all be in the other room watching the TV while you’re exchanging personal emails that maybe contain very private, confidential information.
Or you could be broadcasting your device while you’re logging into some sensitive financial account like PayPal, where every keypress reveals the letter of the password on the screen before it changes to a dot. Anyone watching the TV would know your password once you’re finished.
There are a lot of reasons you wouldn’t want someone watching your mobile screen with an app like this while you’re doing different things on your phone, so always be aware of when you’re actually streaming your screen to your Chromecast device, and remember to stop casting when you’re done!
Sharing Embarrassing Camera Captures
There are other apps like Live Cast for Android that let you live stream your phone’s camera wherever you go (so long as you’re connected to the same network as your Chromecast).
This can be a lot of fun. You could use it to set up an old smartphone as an IP security camera somewhere in your house or garage. But if you use it to have a bit of fun during your holiday gathering, once again you don’t want to forget that you’ve got it turned on!
Everywhere you go with that phone, you’ll be streaming video from its camera, and everyone watching the TV will see the stream. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to think of situations when this could get you into trouble if you forget that it’s turned on, especially if you’re one of those people who takes the phone into the bathroom with you…
Showing Everyone What You’re Watching
The most common use for Chromecast is to stream YouTube and other online videos to the TV. It’s so common that if you have Google Cast installed in your browser, it’s literally embedded right into every YouTube video you watch.
With a single click of that icon, you can quickly stream to any Chromecast device in your house. There is only one other step to choose the Chromecast device, and that video will start streaming live to the television.
This is really convenient during that holiday party, because you can just launch a YouTube show or a Netflix movie and you’re done. No streaming media box needed, no special media server setup required – just the Chromecast and your computer or smartphone and you’re done.
While the convenience is a benefit, it can also be a curse. Imagine what can happen if you’re innocently in your bedroom getting ready to do your daily yoga session; you launch the video of your favorite yoga instructor – who maybe happens to be very pretty.
You pull out your smartphone and start playing the yoga instruction video. You accidentally tap the cast icon instead of the maximize icon (they are right next to each other), and the little do you realize the video is also simultaneously playing in the living room where everyone is sitting around the TV.
Halfway through your yoga routine, your cousins are pounding on your bedroom door laughing about the fact that you’re watching videos of “yoga chicks” while locked in your room.
Try to get out of that situation while saving face.
Enjoy Chromecast, But Protect Your Privacy
The reality is that no one needs to know what videos you’re watching in the privacy of your own home, and the ease with which you can cast video to your TV can turn that privacy on its head. Be careful, or you may find yourself having to answering some very weird questions!
Chromecast is one of the best streaming media devices on the market today, but just remember that with the convenience it offers, there are privacy concerns. Always be aware of when you are or aren’t streaming from your devices!
Have you ever accidentally streamed anything to your Chromecast device? Do you have any tricks you use to make sure you don’t end up embarrassed by your Chromecast stream? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!
Image Credits:Disappointed family by CREATISTA via Shutterstock