How to Keep Your Children Safe Online

Published Jan 31, 2018 | Updated Oct 28, 2019

Similar to the real world, the internet has an evil side – readily available by your kids.

There are plenty of adult sites, questionable characters, hate groups, crime, bullying and misinformation that can influence your children. Luckily there are ways in which you can ensure your child doesn’t encounter the perils of the internet. 

1. Familiarize yourself 

Parents should become familiar with every detail of the cyber world that their children play in. As a parent would be familiar with the local park or sporting ground, make sure you know your kid’s online environment. It may take some time sifting through hundreds of websites, but it will be worth it for the safety and mental health of your children. As your child grows older, you can check their online environment less frequently. 

2. House rules

How much time should children spend on the computer? Making house rules is a fantastic idea to control the time spent on the internet. Decide how much time you are comfortable with your children being online. You could also decide what sites they are allowed on. Talk about the rules and the consequences of breaking them. If you have more than one child, allocate days for using the computer in their free time. 

Apparently, rules can be changed and altered depending on your family, household and access to computers. 

3. Teach them 

Teaching your child to protect their privacy could be the most important aspect of this list.  Chances are they will not understand the consequences of revealing personal information, but it still helps a lot. The earlier they learn, the quicker they will understand. 

They must never give their name, phone number, e-mail address, password, postal address, school, or picture without your permission from you, the parent. They should not open emails from people they don’t know. Stay away from online forums and chats, and not respond to dangerous or disturbing messages. Never accept invitations or meet with people online. 

4. Location, Location, Location 

Keeping the location of your computer in a central area of the house is an excellent idea. Unfortunately, laptops are very common today so monitoring this can be difficult.  If you have multiple computers, only allow internet access to the ones in your preferred location. 

5. Trust

You want your children to trust you. If they see something online that makes them uncomfortable or sad, ensure they can come to you without you getting angry, blaming them or taking away their online privileges.  

6. Internet service provider 

Choosing an internet service provider comes down to speed, data and cost, however, you can find providers that offer parental control options. Do some research and see what services your provider has, spending a little extra money to ensure the safety of your children could be worth it.  Some providers offer free parental control that limits the children’s access to websites and communication features by age, content categories, time, and other choices. 

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7. Browsers 

Browsers can manage parental control to a lesser extent. When you use your ISP and your browser together, you can start blocking out harmful content. Your internet browser will have some safe browsing options ready to go. Windows and Internet Explorer will differ to Mac and Safari. You will be able to filter our nudity, language, sex and violence on a scale.  Using just your browser won't get you great results, as we mentioned before, try using your ISP and your browser to work together. Browsers can also be the aided by the use of VPNs. Check out some VPNs for Windows and upgrade your security.

8. Tune up your search engine

Search engines have settings that can be changed to aid you and the safety of your children. A tech-savvy child can easily change them back. Preferences can be made just like a browser, blocking out certain harmful content. Some search engines will be safer than others. 

9. Call on software for assistance

At the end of the day, you can never be too safe. The software can add another level of protection to your computer. Make sure you find some software that reflects your values, you don’t want the software becoming to the parental figure. Carry out the necessary changes to fit your family’s needs. 

The software may come at a high price, make sure you use the free trial periods to see what suits your family. Go online yourself and do some research, they have been many parents in your situation previously. 

Every household will have a different situation, be sure to test out many options and see what works for you, trial and error. Remember, you can spend some extra money to ensure the safety of your children. 

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