How to ensure your Children are Safe Online

Two thirds of all 7-16 year olds can access the internet in their bedroom, according to recent research. But how can parents be sure they are protected while online?

Internet use

According to the latest Childwise Monitor Report, children aged between 7 and 16 years use the internet for an average of two hours a day for more than five days per week. So today’s parents need to ensure they utilise parental control software on their children’s devices and speak to their children about the importance of online safety.

Talk to your child

The first step towards ensuring your child is safe online is having a conversation with them about what they should and shouldn’t do when using the internet, and what you will do as their parent to protect them.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOPC) has created an excellent resource for helping children understand how and why they should use the internet safely. Their Thinkuknow websites contain age-specific guides for staying safe online while having fun.

Parental controls

To increase online safety it’s wise to use parental controls to limit what your child can do and see on their computers, games consoles, portable media players and mobile phones.

Parental controls can be used to filter the content that your child can access to help ensure they only view age-appropriate material, while usage controls can limit the amount of time or types of things they can do on their devices.

Controls within your operating system

You can set up parental controls on your child’s computer using the built-in settings in Windows 7, 8 and Vista as well as in Mac OS X. These can be used to specify how many hours the computer can be used, the types of games that can be played and the programs that can be ran.

Safer browsing

To maximise your child’s online safety and control the content they can access, set up the parental controls available free from your internet service provider. These can also be used to access reports about your child’s online activity.

In addition, it’s worthwhile using the safety and privacy tools available from your child’s favourite websites.  Make sure you use the privacy control settings to safeguard your child’s Facebook account, use Google SafeSearch to prevent adult content appearing in your child’s Google searches, and apply Safety Mode for filtering YouTube content.

It is also prudent to check your child’s browsing history periodically to make sure they haven’t been on any websites that they shouldn’t. Let your child know you will be doing this and then turn off Windows’ “delete browsing history” functionality.

Now that children can readily access the internet on games consoles, portable media players and mobiles phones, it’s a good idea to set up the parental controls available on most of these devices as well.

Explain your actions

Make sure you explain your reasons and your children should understand you have their best interests at heart.

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