My children are 9 and almost 6, and just like you I can tell stories about my children grabbing my phone and swiping like there’s no tomorrow!
In a way it’s handy to have a kid around who can help us figure out how to use our phones and other electronic devices, but it’s a little bit scary when you realise just how much your children can do online.
Our children may be naturals when it comes to knowing how to use technology devices, but that doesn’t mean they have the life skills required to be safe online. That’s where you come in, and that’s where this article can help you.
What You Need To Be Aware Of – For Your Children’s Sake
You’re probably aware that the internet is not the safest place in the world.
While the vast majority of people do use it safely, and gain much knowledge and enjoyment while they’re there, you need to be wary of those few who abuse the privilege of being connected online.
Whilst you can’t guarantee your children won’t see any inappropriate content online – and in fact you can almost guarantee the opposite will happen at some point – there are some steps you can take to minimise the chances of them seeing something you don’t want them to see. These are particularly helpful for younger children who have no desire to override any parental controls you set up!
Free Parental Controls
There are plenty of free parental controls available online, and these are a great starting point to keep your primary school (or younger) children safer online than they might otherwise be. Some of these include:
- Open DNS – you can google this company and freely install their software, which can be used on all devices in your home to block adult content. It’s quick and easy to install and helps protect your devices from phishing and fraud
- Microsoft/Mac in-built controls – these parental controls can easily be accessed through the system preferences within your device. These are not enough on their own to keep your children safe, but you can use them to limit access to inappropriate content on a device-by-device basis
- Google Safe Search – within Google’s control panel settings you simply “turn on safe search”. This minimises the chances of inappropriate sites appearing in the results of a google search. It’s amazing and a little scary how often an innocent term searched can result in some not-so-innocent results! We should note here, this feature is as easy to turn off as it is to turn on, but again for younger children it’s an easy measure to help achieve your goal
- Kid-Friendly Browsers – turning on Google Safe Search doesn’t restrict as much as you may like it to, so an alternative may be using other browsers that are specifically designed for kids. There are plenty of these available, however while the search results are generally safe (or at least on page 1 of the results, just hope in many cases your children don’t get as far as searching page 2!), sometimes they’re not overly relevant.
There’s No Single Magic Pill
While all of the free parental controls available have a role to play, there’s no single product out there that can guarantee your children’s safety.
Even the paid parental controls in the market have their limitations. They can all help to protect children to some extent, providing the children are not looking or wanting to over-ride them.
Children really are so tech-savvy from such a young age (comes from being born as a “digitod” – post swipe screens!). It’s pretty easy for them to find ways to get around whatever parental controls you set up. A simple search on YouTube will reveal plenty of videos posted (more often than not by kids) teaching kids how to over-ride parental controls. It’s also very interesting to note how popular these sorts of videos are!
What’s The Solution?
The best way to keep your children safe online is to use communication, rather than technology itself.
In other words, it’s far more valuable to be a coach or a mentor for your children when it comes to their online safety than it is to focus on attempting to monitor their every move. The trick is to get your children to the point that they don’t want to get themselves in trouble online as a result of your good old parental guidance.
This is a big task and it’s much easier said than done. However not only is it possible, but in fact it’s essential to know how to achieve this result if you want your children to be safe online.
For more tips on how to keep your children safe online visit http://childrenandtechnology.com.