The web is a one big, mammoth collection of info, and despite there being some dark and scary corners to avoid, it’s pretty important your child has access to all its wonders when the time is right, of course.
My son Oliver has just turned 5 and with my guidance, plays a few online games on the Cbeebies website and together we search YouTube for old Batman episodes and music videos he loves (Hello Pharell)!
There’s no denying the internet offers children inspiration to learn, discover new interests, connect with friends, play online games, and even build their own space via websites (child blogs are all the rage don’t you know) but it can be a scary place too.
Online predators, adult websites, malicious software, and bullying means parents need to be proactive in guiding and monitoring use- and with that in mind, I wanted to share some tips to help ensure your child gets the best from the internet while being safe online:
Set a Policy, Filter, and Discuss
The web can easily suck you in and have you traveling down the rabbit hole when you’re searching around and interacting with others. It’s important that you set a policy that gives ample amount of time for your child to explore the Web but not become too consumed by it.
To be proactive and allot an hour a day to ensure they are taking time to do other important activities such as socialising with friends (in real life), exploring their hobbies, and doing their school work of course.
The other important action is to set up web filters for your child. There are tools and built-in features for your browser which can limit the websites they are allowed to visit or filter results based on keywords.
Of course, if you want to make sure that your child is staying safe, I would recommend that you’re close by when they are using the web. Placing the family computer in the main room will allow you to see their browsing habits and monitor them so you both feel secure.
I would also recommend that you sit down with them from time to time and show them what not to do such as opening a malicious file, clicking on certain ads, or sharing personal information with others. Education is key to safety.
Protect the Computer at Its Core
Software, will be your second line of defence in keeping your childsafe when they’re at the computer and online.
Antivirus programs have come a long way and many now feature online protection tools that will monitor web usage in real-time and block access to a malicious site or catch and quarantine if a malicious file has been downloaded.
Internet security software is what the experts recommend.
This specific type of security program is tailored for web usage.
Many of the main features you’ll find with these type of programs allow for detecting spam emails, helping you set the right privacy settings on social sites, and enabling you to control desktop apps and restrict online access to kids.
Trendmicro.com also recommends safeguarding your social networks like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
I also hate the idea of my kids being followed around the internet by marketing messages based on their search terms so I’ve installed privacy software by Searchlock to prevent tracking by search engines.
Be Vigilant with Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is horrendous and a big worry for my kids as they grow up, because unlike schoolyard bullying, it’s one that follows your child at all times.
Shockingly, almost one in five kids will receive harassment and hateful messages on social sites, emails, messengers, in texts, and video.
To help prevent and of course tackle cyber bullying, it’s important that you spend time with your child to explain that they must speak out when it is happening.
If it is, you can then take the following measures- help your child to create a block on an individual, set spam filters for those hateful emails, identify the other parent and have a talk with them, and encourage your child to stay away from fueling the fire by responding hatefully.