Internet safety for kids
By: Shamiso Chirimuuta
24 Jan 2020
The internet is an amazing place. It offers the opportunity for families to learn, share and play together online. From educational videos to challenging puzzles, it’s a great way for children to learn about the world around them and connect with those they love.
Wondrous as it is, the online world can sometimes be pretty hard to navigate. Think of the internet as a maze of information and knowledge; it’s exciting, engaging and endlessly entertaining, but finding your way through it can be quite a challenge. It’s easy to get lost and find yourself somewhere unexpected - especially as a child or young adult.
Although the internet has its risks, it offers so many benefits to you and your children. Nobody wants to deny their child the opportunity to learn and connect online, and as savvy parents, you don’t have to. With these simple tips, your children can roam online freely, while you have peace of mind knowing that they’re using the internet safely.
How to keep children safe online
So, we’ve established that the internet is like a maze. A fun, but tricky one. The first step to making sure your children are safe online is knowing the way. This means knowing both the easiest route to the middle, as well as how to avoid unexpected turns and dead ends. In short, you’re going to need a map.
Identifying inappropriate or dangerous websites is a great start for mastering internet safety for children. You may already have site blockers that bar your kids from accessing specific content. Setting up parental controls is one way to keep children safe, but it’s also important to remember that there are other kinds of risk that come with being on the internet. Child safety online involves blocking inappropriate content, but just like internet safety for adults, it also includes protection against things like data security and fraud.
You’ve probably heard of phishing. But what about smishing and vishing? These are all forms of fraud that aim to steal personal identity data and other valuable information. Phishing is the term used to describe fraud of this kind that uses emails containing malicious links. But, as technology develops, so do new methods of fraudulent activity. Smishing is malware that comes in the form of a text (SMS) message, and vishing is the telephone equivalent.
If these terms are new to you, don’t be alarmed. The landscape of internet safety is constantly changing, but once you get started, you should be able to keep up just fine. Be proactive in reading articles and educating yourself on child safety online. It’s also helpful to have sound knowledge of the sites your child visits. Protecting children against all dangers online is quite a task. Knowing what type of sites to get clued up on means that you don’t have to worry about covering everything - just the sites that matter.
How do I set up internet parental control?
There are various methods of setting up internet parental controls, depending on what you require. Most new devices have parental control options as part of their pre-installed software. So, if your child is old enough to have their own device, you can set it up with appropriate restrictions. Allowing them to have access to their own devices can be a great way for them to develop independence, and learn about internet safety for themselves. Pre-installed device software is a great option, as it’s all-encompassing, often covering websites, apps and even things like video and audio recording - but restrictions only apply to the relevant device.
If you’d like to add restrictions to all internet devices in your home, setting up control options through your broadband provider is an easy option. There are also security and safety packages that you can purchase and install on any device.
It’s good to develop your understanding of what particular sites or apps your child is on or interested in. If you know your child loves a particular app, be that for social media, gaming or messaging, you also have the option to set up and manage parental controls within that app. With this option, you can often restrict in-app purchases, camera access or even the amount of time that can be spent on the app.
What is internet safety best practice?
Here’s a simple way to make sure that both you and your kids know how to navigate the maze that is the internet:
Be mindful of the context in which your child is using the internet, and be open to the ways that it can benefit them. Perhaps video content helps your child to consolidate their school work, or maybe sharing their photography is a healthy creative outlet. The internet has risks, but it is a great tool for children to learn and develop.
There is no such thing as a silly question. Getting to grips with what’s new and popular can be tricky if you’re not part of that world, so don’t be embarrassed to ask both your kids and other adults about what’s trending online. Take an interest in what your child likes to do online, and make sure that they also feel confident and comfortable asking you questions. Maintaining an open dialogue ensures that you feel comfortable about what your child is doing on the internet, and that they feel comfortable talking to you if they come across something unexpected.
Know what part of the map to pay close attention to. If you split the internet into different zones, it can be easier to identify which specific things you need to be knowledgeable on. One zone might be social media, and another might be online gaming or video streaming. Once you’ve identified the zones relevant to your child, setting up restrictions and keeping track of what’s new becomes much easier.
Educate yourself on what’s popular with your children and their friends, and keep a lookout for potential risks. Technology moves quickly, so it’s important to stay up to date on what you can do to make sure your kids can roam the internet freely and safely.
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