“My child spends a lot of time online. How can I really know what they are being exposed to? Can I be sure they are safe while they are surfing the net? How can I protect them?”
Do these thoughts often run through your mind while your child is engrossed in the online world? We find out how well our children are doing when they are at school, but online is a different matter! As parents as well as IT consultants, we want to share our tips with you. There are ways we can protect our children from the online dangers, the cyber bullying and the inappropriate content.
Here are our 3 Top tips to help you protect your children online.
Tip 1 -Understand what your child does online
In order to protect your child from online dangers you need to understand what it is your child actually does online. Be open and ask them what their favourite sites are, what they do on these sites, which games they like to play and who they play these games with? Bit of a social dinosaur? Ask them to teach you how to use the social networks they use and how to play the online games they play.
Children go online to browse information, watch videos, chat with friends, connect with new people, play games and socialise. To do this they use search engines (such as Google and Bing), they share photos and videos via websites (such as Instagram, SnapChat and YouTube), they use social networking sites (such as Facebook and Twitter), play games with others through websites and they chat via message boards and apps (such as WhatsApp).
There are helpful guidelines within Google and Bing Search engine sites, where you can set up filters on your web browser to stop your children from viewing inappropriate content. The Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter also have features whereby users can report inappropriate comments or abuse, and block people, so this is something to keep in mind as a parent.
As tempting as it is to forbid your child to use any of these sites, apps and tools it is not advisable. All these can be very beneficial to children as they allow them to express themselves, learn new things and connect with people.
Tip 2 – Keeping your child safe online
Now you have an understanding of what your child does online, chat through the risks and dangers around the use of each site/tool/app they use. It is imperative that these conversations occur regularly and begin early. Be careful not to overwhelm your child with too much information; little and often is the key. Also – the attempt here isn’t to scare children, but to inform them and let them understand. You may sometimes see schools and other parents use networking sites like Facebook where a photo can be shared and ‘liked’ millions of times – it’s a good way to show how things they post have the potential to ‘go viral’. Other things to do to keep your child safe are:
- Set rules around what they can do
- Lay down boundaries of how they should behave online
- Check that the games and sites they are using are age appropriate
- Apply parental controls where possible
Tip 3 – Keeping your child safe on Social Networking Sites
If your child has a profile on a social networking site find out how they chose who to become friends with and explain how it is easy for people to lie about themselves on these sites.
We’d also recommend creating an online profile for yourself and ‘friending’ your child; this will allow you to monitor who they are friends with and what they are posting. If your child does not want to friend you then agree on a trusted adult (such as a cool ‘aunt’) that they will friend instead.
We like to subscribe to the adage that ‘if you wouldn’t be happy for your Mum to see it, it probably shouldn’t be going on Social Media!’
For more information about protecting your children online and what IT steps you can take, call one of the team today on 0845 270 6850, or visit www.jfls.com
You may also like our recent blog ‘The Blue Screen of Death’… for those moments when your computer freezes and there’s nothing you can do, or is there? http://jfls.com/uncategorized/dreaded-blue-screen-death/