As a sign of the times we live in, more and more children are getting Internet-enabled gadgets for Christmas.
Parents naturally want to keep their children safe and it is only natural to be concerned about Internet usage. Like the real world, the Internet has its seedy side and it can be all too easy for children to accidentally stray onto that side.
Thankfully, parenting a child online is not so different from parenting a child in the real world, and many techniques used in the real world can also be applied online. Here are some useful tips for keeping your children safe online:
Set house rules
Many houses already have rules in place for the real world, such as a curfew, knowing where their child is going and with whom when they do head out. These rules can easily be adapted to a child’s online activities. Allocating a set amount of time a child is allowed to spend online is always a good idea. Parents should also always encourage their children to talk about what they are doing online and who they are speaking to; taking an interest in their online activities can often make them more open to talking.
Use available tools
There is an almost endless number of tools available to make the Internet safer for children and help you control, track and/or limit what your kids can see and do online. The more you know the better, so it is always a good idea to learn about Internet filters, firewalls, monitoring software and what browsers are suitable for children. For example, Google has its own child-friendly browser called Kiddle. Kiddle presents a colourful space-themed page and displays search results that have been approved by Google editors as safe sites for children. In the wake of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), parents will be relieved to hear that Kiddle’s privacy statement says “we don’t collect any personally identifiable information, and our logs are deleted every 24 hours”.
Set up a browsing zone
This kind of ties in with house rules. When I was growing up, we had one computer in the house for family use, which was always located in the hallway and visible to everyone. Obviously, with the introduction of laptops and smartphones capable of accessing the Internet, this is no longer a solution. However, having a rule that children can only use devices when an adult is present or that devices must be kept in a family room can make it much easier to keep an eye on your children and ensure they don’t come across anything unsuitable.
The golden rule
The key thing children need to be aware of is that what they say or do in the digital world may be seen as a reflection of how they are in the real world. The golden rule to teach your child is that if they wouldn’t be comfortable doing or saying something face-to-face or in public then they shouldn’t do it online.
Want to learn more how to protect your family from common digital threats?
Our book of the month, Security in the Digital World, provides tips, advice and guidance for dealing with digital threats in the home and workplace. Save 10% when you buy before the end of December.