Tuesday 7 July 2015

Tips to protect children online

Unrestricted internet access for children can be extremely dangerous, opening them up to cyber-bullying, inappropriate content, and conversations with strangers. However, technology and the internet have opened up amazing opportunities for children to learn and develop their minds in ways unavailable to previous generations - kids are more tech-savvy today than adults twice their age, so limiting access to technology can be a huge setback to their personal development. In order to strike the balance between allowing children to explore freely online, and to keep them safe while doing so, there are a few tips parents can follow. 

1. Have a family computer
Allowing children to have personal laptops, desktops and tablets in their bedroom opens up the possibility that they will access unsuitable websites without you knowing. A good tip for parents is to have a family computer in a communal area which they must use for browsing the internet and playing games. This way you can monitor the websites they visit with ease, and there is no risk that they are accessing the computer when they are meant to be studying or sleeping.

2. Use an anti-virus with a parental lock
The best anti-virus software available will allow parents to use a parental lock to block websites which are unsuitable for children. The anti-virus will come with a list of pre-loaded websites, such as gambling websites, which children should not have access to, and will allow parents to add their own blocks to ban specific web pages. The locks can then be reversed when an adult is using the computer with a password, or alternatively can be triggered during certain hours of the day. 

3. Add a trusted friend on Facebook
Lots of young children have Facebook and Twitter accounts nowadays, but social media can be a haven for child predators and cyber-bullies. If you are going to allow your child to have access to Facebook or Twitter, make sure that they have an adult added as a friend or set as a follower - that way you can monitor their usage without compromising their privacy. As children get older, they may be less eager to add their mum or dad to their Facebook page, and instead would prefer to add their cool aunt or uncle who can do the job of monitoring for you.

4. Explore the internet together
Although schools teach basic computer lessons to young children, the only way you will truly teach them about online safety is to explore the web together. Browse some game websites with your child, show them how to use search engines to find information, and talk about the dangers of giving out personal information online to strangers. Technology should not be feared – when utilised safely it can help children learn a great deal about the world, and can help to develop lots of skills from a young age.