The internet has become an integral part of everyday life and provides access to an unimaginable collection of information, entertainment and communication for many of us.
However, with that also comes the chilling reality that when your children are online you don’t necessarily know what they are reading, watching or who they are talking to.
So, how do you protect them from the minefield that is the World Wide Web?
Here are a few tips to get you started:
SET HOUSE RULES
Decide how much time you think your children should spend online and which sites they are allowed to visit. Create a short list and keep it next to the computer – there’s a bunch of free ones at www.safekids.com to give you a helping hand as well as loads more information and advice to help keep your family safe.
To avoid confusion, discuss these rules with your little ones as well as what will happen if the rules are broken.
To give an example you could say that your kids are allowed half an hour of internet time on their dedicated days. One child has Mondays and Wednesdays, and the other has Tuesdays and Thursdays, with an extra 1 hour each at the weekend.
TEACH THEM TO PROTECT THEIR PRIVACY
While they won’t completely understand the consequences of disclosing personal information online, you should still make sure your children know the following:
• To never give their name, phone number, e-mail address, password, postal address, school, or picture without your permission.
• To never open an e-mail from someone they don’t know.
• Should they receive a hurtful or disturbing message, to let you know straight away.
• Not to meet up with anyone they ‘meet’ online.
BE THEIR FRIEND
Tell your children to come straight to you when they see anything that makes them uncomfortable, and most importantly assure them that you won’t overreact, point the blame, or immediately restrict their online privileges.
The more open they are, the more you can keep them safe.
PROTECT YOUR CONNECTION TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD
Invest in a sturdy anti-virus protection with built in parental control, we recommend ESET Smart Security and ask your ISP (Internet Service Provider) to see if they have any restrictions that they can implement.
ADJUST YOUR SEARCH ENGINE
Search engines include additional settings that can block certain websites, such as those that contain explicit or sexual material, and can be configured quite easily. (But be aware – a savvy child could switch the settings back.) Once the restrictions have been set these websites will be inaccessible.
STAY IN A KID-FRIENDLY ZONE
For young children you can consider confining their online exploration to web addresses that list child-safe sites on everything from TV, films, music, and games.
Some good choices include:
PIK LUK (www.pikluk.com)
An email and internet browser designed for the younger generation which allows you to fine-tune the websites your children are allowed to visit as well as time management options.
‘Zone for Autistic Children’ is designed to simplify the process of browsing the internet making it less frustrating for children who struggle with fine-motor skills.
The web is there to be enjoyed by every generation but it’s our job to keep the little ones safe.
Talk to your child about things the like to do online and how it makes them feel. The more they feel they can confide in you the safer they will be.
SOME LINKS YOU MAY FIND USEFUL
If you have any questions, or want to discuss any aspects on how you can protect your family online – feel free to give us a call on 0121 355 4474.