As a parent, it is extremely hard to monitor the activities your child is indulging in online. Gone are the days when there was just one PC in the house. Today, everyone has multiple devices that connect to the internet, starting with smartphones to tablets and gaming consoles that connect to other online players.
This puts your child’s safety at risk. These safety measures can save you from a lot of damage, such as spyware and ransomware, more importantly if correct measures are not taken, your child’s life could be at risk
You never know which pop-up or chat room can lead to terrible results such as cyber bullying or truth and dare games that go as far as self-harm.
Your children probably have a greater grip on technology, but they are not aware of the risks that they may face unintentionally. To address this issue, here are some tips that you can take to ensure your children’s online safety.
Talk, teach and educate your children
1. Change YouTube settings
YouTube is highly popular, and has a lot of content for children and generally its considered safe. However, there are a lot of videos that are not suitable for children.
Go to the desktop site of YouTube, scroll down to the bottom of the screen, there you will find an option to put it on restricted mode, the restricted mode makes age inappropriate content unavailable by filtering it out
2. Help your children protect themselves
Teach your children about using social media platforms correctly and safely, educate them what to share and what not to share, teach them the cons of sharing information publically or revealing their movements by geo tagging and check-ins
Here is a list of the links to the privacy settings of the most popular social media sites
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/help/325807937506242/
- Instagram: https://help.instagram.com/116024195217477/
- Snapchat: https://support.snapchat.com/a/privacy-settings
- WhatsApp: https://www.whatsapp.com/faq/en/general/21197244
- Kik: https://kikinteractive.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/217680888-How-can-I-keep-my-Kik-account-private-
- fm: http://safety.ask.fm/safety-tools/
3. Install a reliable antivirus software
Children are curious naturally, they have the tendency to discover new things. This may lead to clicking on wrong links or bringing in malicious software. Most of the times it is in the search of free game versions from untrusted websites that kids access.
The choice of anti-virus depends on your needs and affordability, however it is very important that the antivirus software includes real time scanning
4. Make gaming safer
As mentioned in the start, gaming devices are also connected to the internet these days. This enables them to download games and search the web. It is very important to know which games your child is playing, as there are tons of games out there that are not recommended for players under 18.
Furthermore these games have chat options as well, which may lead to cyber bullying, educate your child about it and look into activating parental controls on gaming consoles.
Thankfully these devices have features that allow you to restrict the kind of content your children can access.
5. Safe browsers and search engines
There are many kids safe browsers available in the market, these browsers specifically filter out any content that is not safe for kids. They also have the feature to impose time limits so that you can control the amount of time they spend on the internet.
On chrome, you have the option to set up a supervised profile, this feature allows you to block any inappropriate content, and you have two options. One is to list the websites that you want to provide access to; the second option is to use the pre-ban list option, which will automatically filter out most inappropriate material.
6. Make different accounts for your kids on devices
If you and your children are using the same device, such as a tablet, create a secondary account for your child so that you can restrict the apps that they can use. You can set parental controls on their Google Play account so that they can download limited apps only
If you are an IPhone user, simply go to settings> restrictions and enable.
7. Encrypt your child’s device
The last thing you want is any stranger to eavesdrop on your children and their online activity. One way ensuring that this doesn’t happen is by encrypting your kid’s device. You can use several tools, such as Virtual Private Networks (VPN). Some of the best VPN services offer military grade encryption, preventing anyone from accessing your child’s gadget and retrieving data.
8. Install anti spyware
Don’t let your children go online without the protection of an anti-spyware. A spyware can totally access your computer track down passwords, turn the camera on, slow down your system speed and fill your screen with pop ups, to stay safe from such issues educate your child.
Teach them not to click on suspicious links or answer questions that come with random pop ups, one thing to teach strictly is to not indulge in chatting with STRANGERS. This can be the greatest threat, there are millions of pseudo profiles on the internet, and practically they can have any kind of reason behind creating such a profile.
9. Lock in apps- enable pin code for apps
On Android phones, this feature is called screen pinning and can be found in the settings menu under security options. This way every time your child moves to another app it will require a PIN code, using this you can simply limit what apps they use. Just hand the phone over to them, they will only be able to access what you’ve unlocked, and for anything else the pin code will be required.
In iPhone you can do this by enabling the guided access option. Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access.
10. Use time limiting apps
There are multiple apps that limit the time your child can use the device after which the screen goes blank. According to the Pew Research Institute, 50 percent of parents have used parental control tools to block, monitor, or filter their child’s online activities.
These are a few apps that you can use to avail this feature, such as:
- Mobile Guardian
- Net Nanny
- Verizon familyBase
- Norton Family
11. Educate your children about the risks of “Sexting”
In a report last year by U.S. Congress, the Justice Department revealed that the biggest growing threat to children is something called “sextortion.”
It’s quite distasteful to see minors exchanging nude pictures, which later might leak out or get distributed. Other than that there are sex offenders and pedophiles who are trying to target hundreds of children every day. Educate your children about such issues
While technologies and the role of internet will be ever increasing, it is highly important to be aware of the security measures that should be implemented. Always keep yourself educated and updated with the latest technology and safety precautions. Technology will keep evolving therefore you should never stop learning about the safe use of technology.
Farzal Khan is a marketer by profession, who has the passion to write on the latest in technological trends on online privacy/security, copyright infringement, entertainment and cyber laws. He loves to binge Netflix to the extent of watching 2 seasons in a night. He is also a full-time foodie, and when he starts gaining weight, he hits the gym to keep up with his fitness.