Parents face a lot of challenges in their day to day lives and one of the biggest faced in today’s increasingly digital world is keeping kids safe online.
Children are going online at a much younger age than ever before and as a parent it is important to be concerned about safety issues and the potential dangers that may be lurking in this digital landscape.
While the majority of children will go online to watch videos or play games, there will be a proportion that end up getting exposed to something dangerous online. It is vital to teach your children how to be safe online from an early age so that they know how to deal with certain situations that may arise.
Here are our ten top tips to keep your children safe online:
1. Teach your children about online safety
It’s important to teach your child how to avoid online dangers. Make sure your child understands that they should never give out personal information online such as their telephone number, address or passwords. Other guidelines include never talking to strangers online or opening any attachments within a message as they could contain a virus.
2. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Every time you go online, your computer’s location can be tracked. This information can be used to monitor internet activity and access personal information. To ensure your child can browse safely and securely, it is advised to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN will encrypt your family’s internet connection making it secure and protecting your privacy.
3. Know what your child is doing online
Parents need to take an active role and regularly look at what their kids are viewing online. Problems can arise when parents have no knowledge of what sites their kids are visiting and who they are interacting with.
Do some research on the types of sites they are visiting and look at the ratings and reviews to gauge whether they are reputable and age appropriate. It’s also worth checking your child’s browsing history on a regular basis to check they are not straying onto any unsuitable sites.
4. Use parental controls
Parental controls are software and tools that can be installed to give you more control over what your child is viewing online. They can be used to block inappropriate content, control in-app purchases and manage the length of time your child spends online.
5. Teach children not to talk to strangers online
Children may find it harder to judge strangers online than they would do in real life. It’s important that parents have a full knowledge of the apps that their children are using as increasingly a lot of them are similar to social media platforms. Unfortunately, there will be people trying to target children that will also use these apps.
Children must be told not to interact with strangers online as not everyone is who they say they are. Always monitor your child’s activity to check they are only interacting with genuine real-life friends and make sure they know that if they receive a text or email message from someone they don’t know to delete it immediately and to never to click or open any attachments.
6. Check privacy settings on a regular basis
Always use strict privacy settings in apps and on websites that your children are visiting. Lots of apps and social networks change their privacy settings on a regular basis so it’s important to make sure that your child is as secure as possible online. It’s also good to teach your child from a young age the importance of privacy settings and the protection it offers them online.
7. Keep computer in communal area of house
It’s always advised to keep a computer in a communal area within the home rather than in a child’s bedroom. Unfortunately, there are a lot of sinister people out there who may try to get your child to do something they do not want to do if they are alone in a bedroom by themselves. Keeping the computer located in a communal area will allow you to keep an eye on your child’s online activity and ensure they stay on suitable, age appropriate sites.
8. Set guidelines and rules
It’s important to establish guidelines and set rules for when your child uses the internet. This will help teach your child to act responsibly and encourage positive online habits. For example, time limits can be set for how long they can go online and at what times of the day.
Your child should also be aware of the dangers of sharing information and posting pictures online. The posting of a harmless holiday pic could alert a criminal that your house is empty.
9. Install anti-virus software on home computer and devices
With the number of phishing emails and hacking attempts at record numbers, it’s worth remembering that children are equally as vulnerable online as the rest of us. Hackers will stop at nothing to get us to click on dodgy links or download malicious software and targeting children’s site’s and apps is an easy way for them to do this.
Make sure you have the latest anti-virus software installed as this will detect any threats on your computer and block unauthorised users from gaining access.
10. Make You Tube safe for kids
One of the most popular and frequently used video sites is YouTube. It’s most often the first port of call for children wanting to watch videos online. However, not all the videos will be appropriate, and children could end up accessing content that is not suitable for their age.
The site has a range of safety features that parents should be taking full advantage of to ensure their children are not exposed to inappropriate content. Parents should always make sure they are browsing in the restricted mode setting for extra security.