The Internet is a vast space of knowledge and entertainment – now easily accessible to anyone, anywhere. However, this also means there’s a lot of scams, inappropriate content and people trying to access personal information. Children of all ages aren’t always aware of the risks online. We’ve spoken to some experts to get you some simple tips that will help protect your children. Bev Smith from Friendly WiFi says it’s important to “create time and learn from your child about the websites, smart phone apps and the online games they use” so you understand their interests and online behavior.
Prevent any unwanted downloads
When you’re setting up a new device, change the administrative privileges so that it requires a password for any downloads from the Internet. This helps to prevent young children downloading unknown viruses or inappropriate content onto your computer. It also means they have to come to you if they want to purchase music or upgrade a game, so you can monitor their online activity and purchases.
Check the website twice
It’s not always obvious at a glance whether a website is safe to browse or not. We spoke with Caroline Hurst, Educational and Training Manager for Childnet. Hurst suggests parents “take a look at the URL and make sure it says ‘https’ at the start of it rather than ‘http’, as this is a clear indication that it’s okay.” You can also check to see if there’s a small padlock in the corner too. If you can’t see either, don’t put any personal information on the site and close it down.
Search in safe mode
All search engines have a ‘safe mode’ option within their search settings, which act as another filter to help further protect your children online. For example, you can activate the SafeSearch option on your search engine or entertainment sites like Netflix and BBC Iplayer.
Utilise parental controls
Create filters to stop your child from accessing inappropriate content. Carolyn Bunting, General Manager of Internet Matters suggests that “a child’s discovery of the internet should be encouraged when they’re in a safe environment.” You can set up parental controls yourself, or ask your Internet provider or mobile phone network to set them up for you. You can then choose how much access your children can have.