internet has opened us up to a world of possibilities, you can shop, do your
banking, ask questions, check the weather and connect with friends 2,000 miles
away with just the click of a button. But despite the great opportunities it
presents, the internet can also be a very dangerous place if you’re not
careful. In fact, cybercriminals,
inappropriate content, social media bullies and fake accounts are just the tip
of the iceberg when it comes to the dark side of the internet.
this can be damaging enough to an adult, but as the next generation of children
are growing up in this digital world, they too can be affected by the content
they’re accessing online. This is why it’s so important to protect your little
ones from being exposed to harmful material or from sharing too much about
themselves with strangers online. Below we’ll look at six ways you can keep
your children safe online, even if you’re not always there to watch over their
Educate yourself on the dangers of the internet
of the problems that a lot of parents face is that they weren’t raised in the
era of the internet like their children were and therefore they aren’t always
as knowledgeable about computers, mobile devices or the activities taking place
on the internet. But the best way to be able to educate your kids and keep them
safe is by getting clued up yourself. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for advice,
pick up a book or run your queries through a search engine to help you better
understand the internet. Once you’ve bolstered your own knowledge of the online
world, you’ll feel better equipped to protect your children.
Teach your child about online safety
you’re armed with your new-found knowledge, it’s time to educate your children.
Before allowing them to go online by themselves, it’s a good idea to sit them
down and have an open and honest discussion about the dangers of the internet.
Of course, you don’t have to go into all the horrible details but making them
aware of the dangers will keep them wary when using their devices. At this
stage, you should drive home the stranger danger issue as well. It’s best to
try and keep your little ones out of chat rooms as best you can but reinforcing
the ‘never talk to strangers’ rule is vital, even when these strangers are
online and not in person.
also important that they understand never to share any personal information
with a stranger and never to upload any photos online without your
permission. And of course, under no
circumstances should they agree to meet up with someone they don’t know! This
can all seem a little ‘doom and gloom’ especially when talking to much younger children
but putting that bit of fear into them could be what it takes to keep them safe
and cautious online.
Place computers in common areas
children have computers or mobile devices in their rooms, it can be much harder
for you to monitor their usage. Instead, you should limit computers or the use
of mobile devices to common rooms in the house. You’ll be amazed how your mere
presence as a parent can help to keep your child abiding by the rules. After
all, you might not actually be able to see what they’re looking at on their screens,
but they don’t have to know that.
Set fair usage and time limits for your children
a general rule, it’s a good idea to limit your child’s internet usage anyway.
Firstly because this can reduce the risk of them finding content or websites
they shouldn’t see, but also because it’s not healthy for children to be glued
to their devices all day. Set boundaries for what sites they can and can’t
visit and give them dedicated screen time each day. For example, they can play
games for an hour a day before dinner or watch a video before bed. You may wish
to extend this time if they’re genuinely doing homework, but otherwise healthy,
reasonable limits are a good idea.
Spend time on the internet with your children
great way to keep an eye on your children’s internet usage and educate them on
best practice is by spending some time with them online. This can be easier to
do with younger children, but tweens and teenagers tend to be more difficult to
interact with in this way. Make some time to sit down with them in the evening
and ask them to show you the games they’re playing. Alternatively, you could sit
and help them research their homework or school projects. By spending time with
them in this way you can point out any strange pop-ups or websites they should
avoid, and generally just teach them how to safely navigate the internet.
Put blocks or restrictions on your chosen websites
is perhaps one of the best tools you have as a parent trying to keep your
children safe online. As internet users have become younger and younger, more
internet providers and third parties have begun creating systems that allow
adults to put blocks or age restrictions on certain websites. Many providers
offer filtering tools and parental controls to help give you peace of mind, so
you should speak to your provider about what they offer.
third-party systems even operate as the middleman between the provider and your
children’s device – all you have to do is plug it into the wall. These allow
you to block the internet at the touch of a button using the partnering app.
This gives you ultimate control over your children’s internet usage and you don’t
even have to be in the house to do it. If you’re feeling concerned about what
they’re doing when you’re out of the house, or if they’ve not done their
homework you can simply block the internet until they’re allowed to use it
again. It is that simple.
Stuart Cooke is the Marketing Manager at Evalian.co.uk,
data protection and cyber-security consultants who train businesses and
educators on how to protect their website and themselves from online threats.