Keeping the kids safe online

With a handful of small changes, one can make big changes to children's online safety.

Technology has developed at record speeds over the course of the past three decades. It’s both incredible and a little terrifying; especially when looking at our children’s safety. You hear all the awful stories on the news, and it leaves you wondering how you can protect children from the dangers of the online world, while also allowing them to explore and enjoy technology. There are a few steps you can take that will offer you peace of mind and children safer browsing.

How are Kids Using the Web?

Unless you want to start looking through their browsing history (not recommended), kids are going to get up to things that parents don’t know about. Less than half of parents actually talk to their children about what they are doing online, and those are the kind of numbers that need to change. Kids don’t always understand the consequences of their actions online, especially when they are young, and they need help with that aspect.

Here are a few facts and figures that might help you feel motivated to begin increasing their internet safety: -

  1. 29% use the internet in a way that their parents wouldn’t like.
  2. 21% use sites where they can talk to strangers.
  3. 17% visit sites that contain adult content and porn.
  4. 4% visit gambling sites.

It’s easy to lie about your age on the internet so that you can gain access to sites likes this; hence so many kids under 13 are on Facebook. Of course, kids are also doing completely innocent things online, such as:

  • Posting on social media
  • Keeping up with celebrities
  • Using search engines to learn
  • Watching live video streams
  • Chatting with friends
  • Playing games

However, it is these simple things that are the easiest for predators to compromise. Following the basic steps detailed below will help you to achieve a better level of internet protection.

Teach Them Basic Internet Security

This is especially true as they get older and start approaching their teenage years. Preteens are naturally more curious and will start to rebel a little. So, ensuring the basics of internet safety are instilled in them is essential. Talk to them about the warning signs of things like grooming online, and that people may not always be who they say they are. Show them how to make posts on social media accounts private to prevent unwanted attention from strangers, and not to respond to messages from people they don’t know; even if they seem really nice. They should never exchange personal information either, and you should always know who they are talking to. You can keep an eye on their friend list without invading their privacy. One in five children receive sexual solicitation online, and this is something that you can try to prevent. Make sure your child knows they can come straight to you if they receive an uncomfortable message online, and that you won’t be mad even if they broke the rules. 40% of kids ignore their parent’s advice and end up chatting with strangers, and they need to know that they aren’t going to be mad if they come to them after something upsetting.

Keep it Central

The best way to have your eyes on what the kids are doing without snooping through their computer is to have a family PC instead. This should be kept in a central location, for example, in the living room. As the child won’t be in their bedroom, or another secluded area, you can keep better tabs on what they are doing. It helps them to resist temptation as well because they know that they could be caught breaking the rules. If you have iPads and other portable electronics, they should also be with the family computer just to ensure that everyone remains safe and sensible. In the evenings, you can make sure the portable devices are returned to their home so that no one sneaks one to bed with them.

Use your Parental Locks

Whether the kids have iPads or browse on laptops, there is plenty of opportunity to add parental locks. A lot of the time, parents can do this through their internet service provider. This will allow them to choose which websites they can and cannot visit, as well as set an age limit so that any sites that might contain adult content cannot be accessed. It’s a really quick and easy way to protect them. As long as they don’t know what the PIN/ password for the parental lock is, they won’t be able to override it either. More intelligent products such as the B9 FamilyHub allow parents to configure this all from one central location and doesn't require technical know-how to run them. Parental locks work on computers as well, by ensuring your account on the PC is the administrator and their account isn’t. This allows you access to the user account, but also means you can implement locks to ensure that they don’t access anything they shouldn’t.

Limit Their Time

It’s so easy to get sucked into browsing. Little ones often find fun games, and the older kids end up browsing social media or reading new and exciting stories online. It can become an addiction, and one that even adults find themselves trying to break. One of the easiest ways to stop them from getting glued to the screen is to set restrictions for how long they can spend both online and the device. You can do this through both the computer and your internet service provider. For example, you might decide that they can have half an hour of screen time after school every evening and two hours at the weekend. It’s whatever works best for the family, and it can be adjusted at any time.

To Conclude

The internet can be a wonderful place, and it is full of knowledge to help kids learn more about the world around them. It can be dangerous as well, but as long as their guardians keep an eye on them and communicate, they will be a lot safer. The world of online safety is in their hands as a parent or guardian, and the tools for education are detailed here for them to follow.