GUEST POST: A Guide To Protecting Children Online
29 June 2017
Internet Safety For Kids: A Guide To Protecting Children Online
Nearly every day there seems to be a new story about how someone is using technology for criminal purposes. One day it’s a new credit card scam or identity theft ring. The next might be a scary piece of malware that hijacks computers and locks you out of your files.
There are new online threats emerging all the time. The worst part, though, is that not all of these threats are aimed at adults. Some of these online scams specifically target the most vulnerable among us: our kids.
As terrifying as that is, there are many things you can do to protect your kids online, as well as ways you can teach them to protect themselves.
While the concept of online danger may be too abstract for kids to grasp, especially if they’re very young, most kids do understand simpler concepts such as sharing. Educate your kids about what is okay to share online and what is not okay.
Most any online danger you want to discuss with your child can be related to a simpler concept relevant to his or her age. For example, not trusting strangers online is the same as talking to strangers in public, etc.
This YouTube video is filled with great online safety tips for kids and teens. Try watching it together as a family, so you can discuss any questions your kids might have.
The best way to make sure your kids are safe online is by talking to them. Ask them what they’ve been doing online. Talk to them about their favourite apps, games, social media sites, etc. Encourage them to ask questions about things they find online.
With the pervasiveness of social media these days, it’s not just threats from strangers that can be a danger to kids online. In fact, more than half of adolescents have been bullied online at some point.
Keeping the lines of communication open is very important. You want your kids to feel comfortable coming to you with anything that may be troubling them online, instead of keeping it to themselves.
Most parents walk a fine line between giving their children the freedom to grow and make mistakes and wanting to do everything in their power to keep their kids safe. No parent can watch their kids 24/7, but there are plenty of ways you can monitor their internet activity.
- Don’t allow kids to have internet-connected devices in their rooms or private areas of the house.
- Monitor what websites they visit and which apps they install on various devices and understand what each is used for.
- If kids are allowed to have email or social media accounts, require them to give you the passwords and check the accounts often to see how they’re used.
While criminals are exploiting technology for negative purposes, there are many ways that technology can also work to keep your kids safe online.
- Adding a proxy software service to your computers and devices will protect your family’s private files and information, should one of your kids mistakenly wander onto a phishing website or other hacking scheme.
- If you allow your kids to have social media accounts, be sure to adjust and monitor the privacy settings on all the accounts to keep your child’s information private.
- There are several options for parental control software on the market, such as Netsanity. This type of software allows parents to monitor device usage, turn devices off at a specified time, and restrict specific content.
Keeping kids safe feels like a full-time job for parents, and technology seems to be making that job harder all the time. However, if you approach online safety as something you can work on as a family, you will have much better success.
About the Author
Caroline is a freelance writer and internet security expert. She focuses on educating people about the prevention of cybercrime. You can find more of her work at Secure Thoughts.