In this post, How to Keep Your Children Safe Online, we discuss Since its modest origins in the 1970s, the internet has grown to become one of the world’s most important information warehouses and a critical facilitator of global communication. Globally, 3.5 billion individuals have an internet connection, which means that 45 percent of the world’s population uses the internet on a regular basis.
Mobile internet connectivity has significantly boosted the number of people who have a regular internet connection, allowing internet penetration in North America to reach 89 percent in 2017.
While the internet is a wonderful tool with many applications ranging from education to entertainment, it also has a negative side, particularly for children and young adults.
Over 45 million youngsters aged 10 to seventeen use the internet on a regular basis, with one in every five of them being sexually solicited. Around 60% of teenagers have received communication from an unknown source, and half of those who have been contacted have responded to the communications. Cybercrime is one of the fastest-growing sectors of criminal activity, with hackers getting younger by the day.
Child molesters and criminals aren’t the only ones who can be found on the internet. While the internet allows us to engage with people all over the world, it can also be used to target individuals via texting and social media. Around 15% of youngsters under the age of 15 have been subjected to cyberbullying in some manner.
Thankfully, parents have a variety of choices for keeping their children secure while yet allowing them to use the internet to their full potential.
In this article, we’ll look at the most common internet-based threats to children and how to combat them, as well as simple rules you can use to increase your child’s online safety, how to adapt those rules to different age groups, and what tools you can use to monitor your child’s internet activity.
- 1 What Danger Do You Face?
- 2 A Total Ban Is a Bad Idea
- 3 The Fundamentals of Internet Security
- 3.1 Self-Education
- 3.2 Teach Your Child
- 3.3 #Explain cybercrime
- 3.4 Keep your laptops in a common space.
- 3.5 Create a Strong Password
- 3.6 Set a time limit for them.
- 3.7 Allowing them to upload and download photos of themselves is not a good idea.
- 3.8 The “Don’t Talk to Strangers” Rule should be reinforced.
- 3.9 As your children become older, make changes to your rules.
- 3.10 Parental Control Software: How to Use It
- 3.11 Added ISP Controls
- 3.12 Make an Operating System Controlers
- 4 Parental Control Software from a Third Party
- 5 Last Thoughts
What Danger Do You Face?
Knowing what to look out for is the greatest approach to protect your child from the most prevalent internet hazards. As the old adage goes, “forewarned is forearmed,” therefore we’ll look at some of the more prevalent online threats your child might face in this part.
Online is a place full of many types of content, which is why it is such a fantastic resource for youngsters who want to learn. However, the sheer volume of content on the internet is precisely what makes it so difficult to keep youngsters from accessing stuff they shouldn’t.
One in every four children who regularly use the internet has been exposed to undesired pornography. Even a seemingly innocuous Google search can lead to web pages that promote bigotry, religious radicalism, or even encourage people to commit violence or suicide.
Predators of the sex life
It’s a sad fact that one out of every five children with internet access has been sexually solicited. We are more linked as a society than we have ever been. While social media on the internet is a terrific way to communicate with a large number of people, it may also expose youngsters to predators.
Most social media networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, screen content and messages geared towards youngsters. However, it is a basic fact that not all terrible occurrences can be stopped. Many sexual predators, for example, use Reddit, so it’s crucial to educate yourself about how safe it is for children and early teenagers.
Allowing unlimited chat rooms and messaging apps like WhatsApp are even more difficult to police. As previously stated, 60 percent of teenagers have received communication from an unknown source. A little more than half of the individuals who were contacted responded to the messages.
According to a 2017 survey, roughly 15% of children under the age of 15 had been subjected to some type of cyberbullying. To put it in context, physical bullying affects roughly 20% of school-aged children in the United States, implying that cyberbullying has become just as prevalent as physical bullying.
The anonymity given by the internet is one of the causes of the rise of cyberbullying. Because of their anonymity, other youngsters are able to say and do things they would never do in front of their peers. Because adolescents and young adults are generally discreet about their social media profiles and the content of their messaging apps, cyberbullying can be difficult to detect.
Children, regrettably, are the fastest-growing victims of cybercrime, which is the fastest-growing criminal activity in the United States. Simply put, children and young adults are considerably more susceptible to being duped into installing harmful software or divulging personal information during phishing assaults.
A Total Ban Is a Bad Idea
Given the dangers that a child with unfettered internet access may face, it may appear to be a smart idea to just block your child from using the internet at all. This isn’t the ideal decision for a variety of reasons, including:
- The Internet is available everywhere — It can be difficult, if not impossible, to completely disconnect your youngster from the internet. 95 percent of schools in North America and Europe have an internet connection, while mobile internet penetration in most wealthy nations is about 80-90 percent. To function effectively, a wide range of devices, from game consoles to smartwatches, require internet connectivity.
Breaking your child off from the internet, which is such an important part of modern culture, may be more difficult than you think, and even if you do, it may not be as beneficial as you intended.
Numerous studies have proven that education is the most effective approach of protecting children online, whereas a complete prohibition leaves them misinformed and hence open to possible online risks.
- While it may seem easy to forbid your children from using the internet at all, doing so prevents them from taking advantage of the many advantages that internet access provides. If nothing else, the internet is a fantastic educational tool for youngsters, allowing them to learn everything there is to know.
The Fundamentals of Internet Security
There are actions you can take if you want to allow your child to use the internet while keeping them safe from its common dangers.
While not all solutions will apply to every case, there are some fundamental guidelines you can implement to increase your children’s online safety without drastically limiting their access to suitable content.
Knowing how computers work and how the internet is generally used is the best method to assess if your child is participating in or being exposed to inappropriate messages or content.
Don’t worry if that sounds intimidating; technology is constantly improving, and happily, there are numerous resources available to assist you in getting the knowledge you require.
Teach Your Child
One of the most crucial aspects of internet safety for children that is frequently forgotten is the importance of including children in the dialogue. We live in a world where even young children are becoming more adept at using internet-connected devices. Educating your children about the potential dangers of using those gadgets, as well as why you have imposed specific limitations, is a crucial part of keeping them safe.
It is difficult for anyone, let alone a youngster, to escape risks that they are unaware of.
Naturally, this depends on your child’s age, but there is no damage in introducing the principles of cybercrime to children. The more they understand, the less likely it is that they will be duped into disclosing personal information or installing dangerous software on the family computer.
Keep your laptops in a common space.
Setting your computer in a common space and ensuring that the screen is visible is an easy way to monitor your children’s online activities and ensure that they are only browsing acceptable material.
The simple presence of an adult in the same room usually deters youngsters from accessing anything they shouldn’t be exposed to, and it also allows you to monitor their internet chats.
Create a Strong Password
This may appear straightforward, but the truth is that most of us don’t care to follow the basic laws of internet security. Setting a strong password on all of your internet-connected gadgets isn’t a big deal for most of us, but it will prevent younger children from accessing devices when you’re not there.
If the numerous headlines about toddlers spending large quantities of money on games or in the Google Play Store have taught us anything, it is that children of all ages are surprisingly skilled at utilizing technology, which we as parents must consider.
Set a time limit for them.
While the internet is a fantastic source of information and pleasure, spending every waking hour on it is not healthy. Setting a time limit on your children’s internet usage will encourage them to go outside and play. It also allows you to block children from using the internet when you are unable to monitor them.
Allowing them to upload and download photos of themselves is not a good idea.
Predators on the internet frequently ask for images of their victims. They begin by asking for “harmless” pictures, but as they earn the child’s trust, they will pressure them to give increasingly indecent images.
Another safety tip that can assist to safeguard your child from harmful communication is to ask them to get your permission before sending any photographs.
The “Don’t Talk to Strangers” Rule should be reinforced.
The ancient adage “don’t talk to strangers” applies equally well to internet communication as it does in real life. While social media is a great method for young adults to communicate and connect with others, younger children should be prevented from talking to strangers online.
As your children become older, make changes to your rules.
Children mature and become more responsible as they get older. When they develop into young adults, restrictions that made sense when they were tiny children may become obsolete. To filter swear words, you might wish to install a profanity filter on your computer.
The best method to keep kids safe while also allowing them to develop is to adapt your guidelines over time. The following are some proposed recommendations for keeping children of various ages safe while using the internet.
- Set your internet consumption limits early on. Now is the greatest time to introduce your youngster to the concept of online restrictions and time limits.
- Inform other persons and groups who will be looking after your child about your internet usage guidelines. It’s far easier to keep your child safe while they use the internet if the grandparents, school, after-school groups, and your babysitter are all following the same playbook.
- Purchase a device that is specifically developed for youngsters aged 5 and under. These gadgets can connect to the internet, but they have rigorous internet usage restrictions, customizable parental controls, and are often significantly more powerful than the ordinary iPad.
- (ISP) Check with your Internet Service Provider to check whether they offer built-in parental controls. Most major ISPs now include a variety of parental restrictions, albeit some of them are quite basic.
- Installing third-party parental control software is another alternative. These applications are usually more complex and provide parents with more control over what and when their children can use the internet.
- If you use your ISP’s built-in parental controls, be aware that they will not work if your child uses a device linked to free Wifi, which is frequently available in locations like large coffee chains.
#Under 6 to 9 Years Old
- You may need to put parental controls on a greater selection of devices that your child is mature enough to utilize at this age. Gaming consoles, smart TVs, and even some watches can connect to the internet and have messaging features built-in.
- If you can’t get parental controls to work on a gadget you’re worried about your child using, make sure it’s in a public space rather than the child’s bedroom.
- Discuss internet safety with your kids and come up with a list of websites that they are allowed to access. Outline what information kids should not share on the internet, such as their name, residence, or school’s address.
- Collaborate with other parents to establish suitable internet usage restrictions for your child and their friends. Children are more likely to accept consistent internet access limits, and you won’t have to worry about them staying over with their buddies.
- Examine the characteristics of any device you’re considering purchasing for your child. Knowing exactly what devices your child can use to access the internet is the greatest method to ensure they are only doing so in the manner and at the times you want them to.
#Under 10 to 12 Years Old
- Discuss the dangers of social media with your youngster. Explain what information should not be shared and that kids should never send images of themselves to anyone who asks for them without first gaining your approval.
- Make it clear to your child that any suspicious activity or inappropriate contact should be reported to you right away. Do not hesitate to notify the authorities if your child reports inappropriate communication to you.
- Make sure your child understands that when they’re not at home, they should put their phones, tablets, and smartwatches in a safe place. This will reduce the chances of loss or theft.
- Facebook and YouTube, for example, have a 13-year-old minimum age requirement. This is there for a reason, and you should make sure your kids are aware of it. Some platforms, such as Facebook Messenger Kids, allow youngsters to securely begin using social media.
- It is fair for you to have access to all of your children’s login information and to be able to monitor their online activities and the communications they send and receive at this age.
#Under 13 Years and Older
- When your child is transitioning from a child to a young adult, it is acceptable to expect them to have some autonomy. You should be working with your child at this age to ensure their online safety. Include them in the discussion and provide them with the information they require in order to be secure.
- Keep up with the latest internet-connected devices, social media platforms, and mobile applications. The more you know, the better equipped you are to protect your child.
- When your child approaches puberty, tell them it’s fine for them to look into topics like health, well-being, body image, and sexuality. Examine your parental controls to ensure that they match your child’s maturation and the information they require. Remember to talk about these topics with your child to ensure that they aren’t obtaining any erroneous or misleading information from the internet.
- Discuss the risks of sexting and sending naked pictures of yourself to others.
- Discuss the concept of cyberbullying with your child now that they have legal access to social media sites like Facebook and YouTube. It’s also worth noting that conversing over the internet does not provide any true assurance of security or anonymity.
- With your child, go over the fundamentals of cybercrime. Give them the knowledge they need to recognize and prevent phishing scams, share personal information on social media, and download malicious software.
- Make sure you and your child are both informed of the legal and personal consequences of copyright theft and plagiarism.
Parental Control Software: How to Use It
The usage of parental control software, either built into OS systems, through ISPs or through third-party programs, is one of the topics we discussed in this article.
When it comes to keeping your children safe online and preventing their access to the darker sections of the internet, using parental control software may make life a lot easier. The correct applications can take care of a lot of the legwork for you, screening what your child can access, limiting their internet usage periods, and allowing you to monitor their communications and social media profiles.
It can be difficult to decide which parental control software to use. We’ll show you how to use the parental controls supplied by your ISP or included with your operating system to make things as simple as possible. In addition, we go over the benefits and functions of using parental control software.
Added ISP Controls
The majority of large ISPs now provide parental controls. These alternatives are typically quite simple, relying on keyword filtering to prevent users from accessing blacklisted websites with undesirable content, such as violence or pornography.
The easiest approach to enable your ISP’s content filtering is to contact them directly to discuss the specifics of the service they provide and your requirements.
It should be mentioned that keyword and DNS filtering can frequently be avoided by using proxy websites or even a different browser. While this may appear complicated, you should always presume that your children are technologically competent enough to handle it.
Likewise, unless your ISP also supplies your mobile broadband service, ISP content filters will not screen content viewed from mobile devices.
Make an Operating System Controlers
Various operating systems, such as Android, Microsoft Windows, and iOS/macOS, include parental controls that are more complex and effective than those provided by your ISP. They also have the advantage of being completely free! If you haven’t yet activated your parental controls, here’s a quick guide to doing so on the four most popular OS systems.
- To enable parental controls on an Android device, go to the “Settings” app and then scroll down to the “Users” option.
- Then, when requested, add a new User and select “Restricted” from the drop-down menu. You will also be encouraged to set a pin, password, or pattern to gain access to the device.
- After you’ve created the Restricted User, you can allow or deny access to all of your Android device’s apps and location services. Your child will have access to the device without a password, but only through their restricted account.
- Simply type “Family Options” into the search bar below the start menu to access Windows 10’s parental control settings.
- You may establish time limitations for both internet and computer usage from the family preferences page. You may also filter inappropriate content, add money to their Microsoft account, and allow them to purchase age-appropriate games and media without needing your payment information.
- If your child is using the Microsoft Edge browser, the content filtering and SafeSearch features will only work.
- To take full benefit of the Windows family options, you’ll need to create a Microsoft account for your child. This has the advantage of allowing you to monitor your child’s internet habits and receive regular updates from Microsoft on such actions.
- One of the biggest advantages of utilizing Windows’ Family Options is that it works with other Microsoft devices like Windows phones and Xbox gaming consoles.
- To enable Parental Controls on a Mac, go to the “System Preferences” tab by clicking on the Apple logo in the upper left corner of the screen.
- You’ll notice an option labeled “Parental Controls,” and when you click it, you’ll see a notification that says “There are no user accounts to control.”
- To add a new managed user, follow the steps.
- You’ll be able to regulate their access to select programs, which Apple stores they may use, set time limitations for their use of your Mac, and even turn off access to functions like the microphone and built-in webcam after the new user for your child has been added.
- You may also set up controls to limit the websites your child has access to, but this content filter will only work if your child is using the Safari browser to surf the internet.
- On an iOS device, such as an iPhone, go to the “Settings” tab and then hit “Screen Time” to set up parental restrictions.
- Choose the option labeled “This is My Child’s iPhone” after tapping “Continue.”
- If this is your child’s phone, you will be requested to input a “Parent Passcode,” or a “Screen Time Passcode,” if this is your smartphone and you are enabling your child to use it.
- After you’ve set up “Screen Time,” you’ll be able to block iTunes and App Store purchases, limit access to built-in apps and features, filter explicit content using content ratings, filter website content, disable Siri online search, and disable Game Center access.
Parental Control Software from a Third Party
While the created parental controls provided by ISPs and operating systems have the advantages of being free and very simple to set up, they do have some drawbacks.
The content screening is usually quite simple and not universal. The majority of built-in parental control software contains limits that only operate with the operating system’s default browsers, such as Edge or Safari.
While some parental control tools work across a variety of devices, most modern families have a mix of gadgets that run on several operating systems. This necessitates the use of a variety of parental control choices, which can be confusing and result in gaps in your limitations.
The usage of third-party software is one answer to these issues. There are numerous parental control applications from which to pick.
Here are some of the more crucial features you’ll want from parental control software to aid your decision and give you an idea of what to search for.
Supports a Wide Variety of Devices
One of the major advantages of adopting a third-party solution is that many of them have apps that can be installed on a wide variety of devices. This means you may apply a single set of limits to all of your family’s devices rather than using a variety of different parental control solutions.
Filtering of Content
Third-party parental control systems can filter internet searches, web pages, and material across a variety of browsers because they are not tied to a certain operating system. Many of them also incorporate secure HTTPS filtering, which makes browsing more secure and safe.
Parental control software also can be used to prevent the download of potentially harmful programs or apps. This is perfect for stopping a child from accessing texting and social media apps and avoiding malware.
Many parental control apps allow you to establish a daily or weekly time limit for internet and computer use. Some software will also restrict access to specific apps at specific hours, which is useful for ensuring that your youngster is doing their homework or sleeping rather than playing Candy Crush.
Monitoring Messaging and Social Media
Although a message and social media monitoring tool become less effective as your child gets older and deserves more privacy, it’s ideal for keeping an eye on younger children who are just getting started with social media and preventing cyberbullying and inappropriate contact.
Management of Remote Notifications and Access
You won’t always be available if your child has a time extension to complete an essential project or requires access to a messaging service when they are away from home.
You can regulate the parental control program’s restrictions on your phone using remote notification and access management features. This enables you to react to requests for expanded access or grant emergency access to capabilities such as location tracking.
Disney in a Circle
Don’t worry if the notion of installing an app on every device your family owns doesn’t appeal to you, but you still want more safety than your ISP or OS’s built-in parental controls can provide. There is a third possibility.
The Circle with Disney device connects your home’s wifi router to all of the devices that are connected to it. Surprisingly, Circle with Disney employs ARP spoofing in a manner similar to that of a “man-in-the-middle” hacker attack, but with the purpose of enhancing your family’s security.
The Circle with Disney sits between all of your family’s devices and your router, allowing it to carefully filter traffic in order to block access to specific content, websites, and apps.
The Circle app allows parents to assign gadgets to certain family members. You can use this to set time limitations on a variety of devices. If your child only has four hours of internet access each day, those four hours are tracked across their phone, tablet, laptop, and gaming console.
In addition to imposing time limits, the app will allow you to selectively deny internet access to specific devices. You can also specify how long specific apps are connected to the internet. This is perfect for restricting your child’s access to social media or games or even turning off the internet connection for all devices.
While the Circle with Disney does not provide much that other parental control tools do not, it does have the advantage of combining everything into one package. If using a variety of settings across a plethora of apps on several devices is your idea of techno-hell, then the Circle with Disney is for you. It’s a simple and easy-to-use tool that even the most tech-averse parent can utilize to protect their child’s internet safety.
The internet is a terrific resource that has grown so engrained in our culture that it is nearly hard to live without it. It does, however, have some drawbacks. Aside from being a massive library of practically all human knowledge and humorous cat videos, the internet is also a haven for predators, thieves, cyberbullies, and information that no one in their right mind would want to expose a child to.
Although it may appear to be the correct thing to do, entirely preventing your child from using the internet is usually counter-productive. A combination of communication, education, and sensible limitations is the best way to keep your child safe online.
There’s nothing wrong with blocking your child from accessing things that they aren’t ready to handle. Your internet usage rules, on the other hand, must evolve as your child grows and matures. What works for a five-year-old will only produce conflict with a teenager.
You’re not alone, thankfully. There are numerous resources available to assist you in learning about the risks that can be found on the internet and how to avoid them. One of the most important factors in keeping yourself and your child safe while they are online is education for both of you. You can’t stay safe if you aren’t aware of the threats.
There are also a variety of tech solutions available to help keep your family safe online, ranging from those integrated into your iPhone to Disney’s clever small toys. You may set time and use limits, filter what your child can access on the internet, monitor their communications, and even cut them off from the internet entirely using the extensive set of parental controls available to you.
As useful as these parental control features are, the best approach to keep your child safe while they are online is to educate them about the risks and maintain a constant line of communication with them.
You’ll both be working toward the same objective if you include them in the conversation about internet security. They’ll know they can come to you with any questions they have, and they’ll be able to tell you about anything that has disturbed them. This allows you to be more involved in their safety.
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