All parents worry about their children on the Internet especially with the horror stories you read about in the media.
I have children who use the Internet and as a parent I do worry about what they could click on and see or do by installing something in this largely unregulated world. Although I take every precaution I can to protect them.
The Internet is never more than a few clicks away from something we definitely don’t want our children to see regardless of whether your starting point is cBeebies or Google.
Fortunately there are ways we can protect our children, some of them are common sense and others are making use of freely available and really very low cost products considering the extra piece of mind they offer .
There are many different things that can be done but it amazes me as I travel around supporting peoples home computers how the majority have nothing in place to prevent children from visiting/seeing websites they shouldn’t. Many parents put it down to having less computer ‘know-how’ than their ‘digital age’ children.
Having worked in education in the past it was made apparent to never under estimate how ‘tech savvy’ today’s youngsters are, finding evermore elaborate ways to bypass school web filters to access the Internet content they required – namely games during class.
1. Parental controls on computers
Not enough parents seem to be aware of parental controls on their home computer. Parental controls enable you to limit the sites your child can access and also the times they can use the Internet (Stops them using it while you are in bed unable to monitor their use) Although the latest versions of windows and the MAC operating system do come with parental controls I personally never find them quite enough for what I want to do and they can be a bit restrictive. Security software which is quite low cost means you can:
Restrict the times a computer can access the Internet (i.e. not allow access between 11pm and 7am
Restrict sites you don’t want them to access.
Come with a host of default settings from mild filtering to heavy filtering.
Select what categories to block from abortion and pornography to weapons and social networking sites (where bullying can occur).
Has overrides as a parent so it does not restrict your use (password protected)
Adds safe search to most search engines ensuring your child cant search for anything you don’t want them to see
Generates reports where they have been so you can monitor activity
And many more features
2. Keep the family PC in a room where you can monitor what they are doing.
This is becoming more and more difficult now with the number of children having access to mobile devices and laptops which pretty much allow access to the Internet from anywhere. It is easier to control with very young children and you should try to keep the computer in a room where you can monitor their access and what they are doing rather than in their bedrooms.
3. Setting rules
Setting rules from the offset can help to curb problems later on. Although a difficult task with the number of ways we can all access the Internet nowadays it is worth remembering that most children rely on you to pay their mobile phone bill so you do control access to it. Setting firm rules with regards to their use and punishment for not adhering to the rules (No Internet for a day, mobile phone etc.) can help. In the age of cyber bullying it is every parents responsibility to always tell you child that been abusive and threatening online is not acceptable in any form.
4. Educating children in Internet Safety
If we want our children to be safe on the Internet the best thing we can do is educate then on the dangers of the Internet. The below is taken from the direct gov website
To keep your child safe you should tell them not to:
- give out personal information to people they only know online – this includes name, home address, land-line and mobile numbers, bank details, PIN numbers and passwords
- supply details for registration without asking for permission and help from you visit chat websites that aren’t fully moderated/supervised
- arrange to meet an online friend in person without your knowledge and permission (if you agree to let them, always go with them).
- give any indication of their age or sex in a personal email address or screen name
- keep anything that worries or upsets them online secret from you
- respond to unwanted emails or other messages
5. Be open with your child
If your child does accidentally go to a site they should not, rather than a lecture try to encourage them to tell you the site and how they got there. This helps you to filter the site in the future and also makes your child feel they can come to you in the future should they have problems online.
6. Ensure that your child is using an account that does not have administrative rights.
Most computer Operating Systems have a facility to set the privileges of the user. Microsoft Windows Operating systems tend to have 2 account types:
STANDARD – Can use most software and change system settings that do not affect other users or the overall security of the system. Things such as installing software, disabling system settings or anything that could compromise the system will require the administrator password
ADMINISTRATOR – Has complete access to the computer. Always ensure you password protect the administrator account.
If you have children and do not feel comfortable with configuring parent & children user accounts and Internet security products properly please inquire at our website for details: