When it comes to keeping your children safe online, the issue is becoming increasingly important. The internet is constantly evolving and becoming more and more useful; children use it not only for social networking, but for speaking with family across the world, watching videos, downloading music and most importantly, education.
While most of these things aren’t generally harmful, and in many cases productive, there is still a danger that your child could intentionally or unintentionally be accessing material online that is unsuitable, or having contact with people they shouldn’t.
Every parent will have a different idea of what constitutes acceptable online behavior and with children becoming more computer savvy, it’s even more important to be able to maintain some level of control over their internet usage.
The first step, is giving consideration to device location. When children are allowed computers or laptops in their room, it’s far more difficult to monitor them whilst they are online. If they are accessing pages they shouldn’t, it only takes a click of the mouse to shut a page down if they hear you coming, so if you are in any doubt you should keep all access to the internet in a communal room such as the dining room or lounge.
Track their history: insist that the history function is set to track every website visited. This way if your child is using the internet when you are not in a position to monitor them, then you can check what they have been looking at.
Download parental control software or use the built-in Windows function that can be customized to allow your child to log on to sites that you deem suitable, whilst at the same time blocking sites that you don’t want them seeing.
Education is also an important aspect; firstly you will want to teach your children the importance of security and not sharing details. Ensure that their privacy controls on social networking sites are restricted to friends and family and insist that they have your permission before adding anyone other than school friends and family.
Dangerous people often pose as youngsters in a bid to form relationships with children. If in any doubt as to who the person is, make every possible check or just say no. Most social networking sites have a blocking function. If you don’t wish someone to contact your child, or you are concerned with cyber-bullying, this can be a very handy aid to protection.
It’s vital that you teach your child never to meet anyone who they have met online, no matter who they claim to be.
Whatever you do you should always remember, children are often far more capable than their elders with computers, this is something that should also drive you, as a parent, to educate yourself about the dangers and signs that something is wrong. If you consider that kids are now regarding as reaching ‘digital maturity’ by the age of 10 years, then it’s never too soon to start.