Simple Steps to Keep Your Children Safe Online
You’re always there to protect to your kids from slips, trips and falls, but what happens when they reach that age when they begin to discover the internet? As we enter a world dominated by tapping, swiping and interacting with thousands of people from around the world, you might be finding it tricky to keep up with the leaps and bounds of modern technology and how it all relates to your kids’ safety.
A Changing World
Until the last ten to fifteen years, most family homes didn't own a second television, never mind a personal computer (PC). Nowadays, increasing reliance on the internet for school work and email, peer pressure to own the latest devices, and a plummet in the price of affordable computers, means that more and more families are plugging into the internet. In more recent years, you’ve also got the explosion of popularity in smartphones to contend with.
It’s now easier than ever before for kids to get online; in fact, many of today’s kids can navigate a smartphone before they can speak a full sentence. For a generation that hasn’t grown up with this technology, it can be easy to get lost.
There are a few common traps that kids can fall foul of when taking those first few footsteps into the online world. It pays to become familiar with them, so you can educate the family and watch out for the warning signs. Here are just a few of the things to watch out for.
You may have well-behaved and intelligent kids, but that won’t necessarily be enough to keep them safe from strangers. Probably the most obvious danger to your children’s safety is the potential for them to talk to dodgy characters through a whole host of websites. They don’t have to be questionable websites to be unsafe; anybody can create a profile on a social network, and even intelligent kids can be susceptible to grooming from strangers.
Rapid advancements in mobile phone camera technology have made it easy for kids or teenagers to exchange pictures. A quick, personal snapchat or photo message might not seem like a big deal to them, but it could easily come back to haunt them if a relationship or friendship turns sour.
It’s not just kids who can suffer the consequences of careless behaviour online. If you’ve linked a credit or debit card to a mobile device that they use frequently, then make sure you lock it down for future purchases, so that you have to enter a password or fingerprint to authorise transactions; otherwise, you could be in for a surprise when the statement turns up.
Safeguarding the Kids
Being prepared for the dangers that lurk online means that you can adequately safeguard yourself, your kids and your home network(s). Although you can’t really look over their shoulders 24/7, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to one of these dangers by following a few simple steps.
Have a Chat
There’s a lot of bad out there on the web, but generally it’s outweighed by the benefits of having instant access to a world of information, study resources and contacts. It’s all about using common sense and sometimes you’ve got to give the kids some credit. When you first introduce a computer to the home, or buy them their first mobile device, have a chat with them about what’s acceptable and what’s not.
Just like you would with junk food or video games, you can easily set limits on the amount of access your kids have to the internet, and how and where they access it. If you have a computer at home, keep it in the lounge so that the screen is easily visible. Set limitations on how much access they have during the week, or disconnect the router when it’s time to call it a day.
Just remember; don’t hand over a smartphone until you’re sure they know how to keep themselves safe, as it’s much harder to monitor internet usage on a phone. If you absolutely have to keep in touch with them, then consider a tariff that doesn’t include a data plan, or has limited data.
Lock it Down
There are a whole range of options for restricting online usage. Blocking websites, limiting active hours of the day that internet access is available, and even preventing the ability to clear your browsing history. There are a number of things you can do to ensure that the kids are kept safe, even if you aren’t around to check. If you’re not sure how to set these things up, give us a call and we can help.
Shared Account Logins
What works for some families won’t work for others, and this definitely won’t be a popular option for a lot of teenagers out there, but you may want to keep a hold of the login details for your kids’ online accounts. Knowing that their parents could log into their accounts at any time could be enough to deter them from having any questionable conversations or making any dodgy site visits.
If You’re Not Sure, Ask
Don’t bury your head in the sand when it comes to internet safety; this growing technology isn’t going to go away. Kids are now being taught how to code and use computers in primary school, so you’re going to need to make sure they’re prepared to face the dangers that are out there.
That being said, the internet brings us a whole range of incredible things, like information on demand, entertainment, and easy contact with friends and relatives. It’s all about knowing how to balance the good with the band, and remember, help is at hand if you need it. Give us a call on 0808 123 2820 if you'd like any help or advice.