Keep your children safe online.
Protect your little ones from online threats.
If you came home and found your children watching adult films, or chatting to a man they don’t know in your house, the chances are you would be more than livid and upset. Yet many parents can be leaving their children open to this type of thing when leaving them to use the internet without any supervision or guidance.
No matter how hard you try, there is no way you would ever stop your children from wanting an online presence. Most children will endure some form of threat online from other children, from cyber bullying, name calling, insults and teasing. But there are also the other every day threats from online predators, malware, dating sites, adult sites and other inappropriate sites.
Keeping your kids safe online need not be a nightmare. Instead of hoping that they don’t get bullied or come across any inappropriate websites follow our simple steps to ensure your children are protected while online. Increasingly there are more opportunities for children to get online – at home, at school and through their mobile phones and games consoles.
What are the risks to children?
Accessing the internetvia PCs, laptops, tablets and using mobile phones can put children at risk of:
- seeing disturbing information or images
- being the victim of online bullying (also known as cyber bullying)
- being contacted and manipulated by an adult for sexual purposes (also known as grooming)
- sharing personal and identifying information with strangers
- sending or receiving sexually explicit films, images or messages of themselves or others (this is known as sexting when sent by mobile phone).
Always try to keep family PC in the living room.
Younger children should be supervised all the time while they are online. The internet will not keep an eye on them and protect them from dangerous material. The easiest way for someone to keep an eye on them is to keep the family PC in a communal area like the living room. If your child is visiting unsuitable websites or chatting to someone they shouldn’t be you will become aware of it.
Talk to your children.
As parents we worry, and know most of the threats and dangers of using the internet. However, your children, no matter how computer savvy, might not be, so take some time to sit with them and explain the threats and dangers, and teach them how to use the internet responsibly and online etiquette. Try not to be too pushy with your children as you need to explain that if they ever feel unsure or frightened about something when online they should come to you or another responsible adult and explain the situation.
Keep your children from unsuitable services
Children like to think they are more grown up than they are, and thus will try to do things because ‘their friends are doing it’ and peer pressure can play a big part. Facebook is not suitable for under-13s – in fact, you’re breaking the law if you let your pre-teen use it. Other sites can be blocked by using parental control software, bought on its own, or in most internet security software packages.
Set rules or guidelines about the time your children can go online and for how long. You may need to make exceptions for homework but all children should have time for other activities, playing outdoors and of course household chores.
Use parental control software.
One way to set guidelines and enforce them is to install and use parental control software. Using this software can limit access to the internet to times specified and agreed. You can also block access to unsuitable content and ‘blacklist’ websites so your child can’t use them. Do remember though that your child might be a bit more PC savvy than you, so make sure that you create separate ‘user’ accounts on the PC and they do not have administrator access or they could disable the software.
Always install security software.
Installing a solid purchased internet security product will protect your computer in case your children download something like a Trojan by accident. Quite a few internet security packages also include parental control software as standard so it will save you more money and offer better protection. Always make sure the software is up-to-date, and it is installed by the PC Administrator so your children can’t mess with the settings.
If you are not sure about Administrator uses and creating a User Account click here.
Make search engines child-friendly.
Searching online can be a minefield, even for adults. It is all too easy to come across inappropriate material. Make sure your children don’t end up on dodgy websites by enabling SafeSearch in Bing or Google. Again, a good full internet security suite will have a way of helping to block or warn of websites that could be harmful.
What parents don’t know.
- 51% of parents don’t have or don’t know if they have programs to track where their teens go online
- 42% of parents do not review content of teen chats that are read or typed by kids
- 95% of parents don’t know the chat room jargon that teens use to warn others that their parents are watching them…
>>I’M INTERUPTING AGAIN: ...ever heard of LOL, or “Laughing Out Loud”? This is the kind of jargon they are talking about.
Just in case you are one of those parents, POS means “Parent Over the Shoulder” and P911 means “Parent Alert!”
Both messages mean, “Watch what you say! My parents are reading our conversation right now.”
If you are worried about your children’s mobile phone use then take a look at something like PhoneSheriff. With so many features it will put your mind at rest.