The internet is a great place to find information quickly and easily. It helps with your child’s homework, but it has its fair share of negatives too. The web provides uncensored access to violent and obscene content. Porn and hate groups flourish on several forums and even social media channels. Even a typo can sometimes take your child to a world you don’t want them to see. How can you keep your little one safe? Here are some tips to protect your children from the sleazy side of the internet.
Parents should know what their kids are doing online. Think of the internet as their online playground and you should keep a watch while they explore it. Older children should be able to use the internet on their own. Even so, you should check in frequently to find out what they are doing.
Set rules and enforce them
You don’t want your children to be online all the time. After all, staring at the screen can affect their eyesight and posture. Decide how much online time they should have and which sites they should visit. Set rules and let them know the consequences of breaking them.
Make them aware of the need to protect their privacy
Young children don’t understand the consequences of revealing personal information online. As a parent,you need to ensure that they do not reveal their name, address, phone number, email address, school, or photos without your permission. Also, teach them about protecting their personal information from identity thieves with a VPN. Your child may befriend some people online. Tell them about the dangers of such relations.
Keep the computer in a common area
Don’t allow children to access the internet from their room. All computers connected to the internet should be kept in the family room where it is easy for parents to monitor what they are doing online.
Instruct your children to come straight to you when they see something that makes them uncomfortable. You need to be supportive too. If you have a tendency to overreact or blame them when they approach you with something, they may not want to talk to you about their online experiences.
Use parental controls provided by the ISP
Your internet service provider might offer some free parental control. Before purchasing an expensive safety product, try the one given by your ISP. Parental controls limit your children’s access to communication features (web chat, email etc.) and websites by content categories, age, time of the day, and some other choices.
Use safe surfing options
If your ISP does not provide parental controls, you should consider taking advantage of the safe surfing options provided by your browser. Your search engine can also be tuned up. If you set limits, Google will not show results with explicit sexual content. However, keep in mind that if your child is tech savvy, they might just restore the previous settings.
Use safety software
While safety software can add an extra layer of protection, don’t expect the software to assume your role as a parent. The software that you choose should reflect your values and concerns and block sites with inappropriate content. These tools are not free but many of them do offer a free trial.
Such tools will not only block undesirable content but also offer maximum protection with minimum effort. In addition, you have the freedom to decide the amount of customisation you want. You can allow certain categories and block them. For example, you can allow sites that provide sex education while blocking sites with adult content.
The message that the child sees while trying to access a blocked website is equally important. Most children resent the ‘Access Restricted’ notice. The ‘This page cannot be displayed’ message is more discreet.
There are also certain tools that allow you to keep the internet under lock and key. Your child will need the key to access the internet. It is a small device that you can plug into your computer’s USB port. It will monitor your child’s internet activity and set restrictions wherever appropriate.