Malicious content. Online predators. Cybersecurity attacks. Just some of the reasons you should be concerned with your child’s safety when it comes to using the internet.
Internet safety is paramount when you’re introducing your kids to digital devices including smartphones, tablets, and computers.
We know — the internet can be a scary place. You may even want to prohibit your child from going online until they’re much older. But rest assured, there’s a variety of different provisions you can put in place to ensure that your child stays safe when browsing the web.
In this article, we’re going to discuss different tips and tools you can use to make sure your child stays safe online.
- Internet Safety Laws
- Dangers & Threats The Internet Poses To Kids
- Online Protection Tools
- Internet Safety & Technology Use Tips For Parents
- Kids & Social Media
- The Internet & Teens
- Your Child & Internet Safety: The Bottom Line
Internet Safety Laws
Now technology is at almost everyone’s fingertips, governments are now taking cybersafety seriously to ensure that all people — including children — stay safe when using the world wide web.
Internet safety laws can differ slightly between countries, but they all aim to combat similar issues.
Online safety laws in the United States, such as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), is designed to protect children under the age of 13 from having their personal information exposed online.
This law must be used by websites — especially social networks like Facebook and Instagram. These sites adhere to these laws by clearing stating that children under 13 are not allowed to register an account on the platform.
One of the main reasons for these laws is so young children — who can be left vulnerable when exploring online — can’t be harassed or groomed by online predators.
The legislation is now being put in place in the UK which states that website, including social networks, must carry out a statutory “duty of care” to ensure the safety of all their users whilst accessing their platform.
Dangers & Threats The Internet Poses To Kids
As much as the internet can be an extremely accessible source of good quality information and entertainment for children, there are huge risks that are posed by the use of the internet.
Here are some of the risks that your child could face when using the internet.
Children can be easily exposed to malicious content whilst browsing online — especially if they’re left unsupervised without the right provisions put in place.
Malicious content, such as violent scenes, graphic pornography, and other distressing images can harm your child’s development.
If your child becomes exposed to such content consistently, it can seriously impact their mental health.
One of the most dangerous risks to children when they’re using the internet is the threat of online predators.
These bad actors purposely target vulnerable people online — including children.
The biggest problem with online predators is that they can easily disguise themselves online, making it hard to trace their true identity.
Through the use of false identities, online predators can use platforms — most notably social networks — to instigate illicit behaviours such as grooming children.
Although the awareness of such individuals has grown through the internet age, they can still pose a threat to the safety of your children online.
Since the dawn of the internet, cybercrime has become an ever more prominent issue.
In January 2019 alone, over 1.7 billion records were leaked as a result of cybercriminals.
When browsing the internet, your children can fall victim to cybercrime without even knowing. This can result in their personal information being stolen, including name, address, date of birth, current location, etc.
Not only this, if you’re child is using one of your own devices — such as your laptop — to browse the internet, you could potentially be at risk of having all of your personal records stolen and your data being compromised.
Social networks can be a breeding ground for bullies who wish to take their behaviour online.
The threat of cyberbullying is all too common in this day-and-age, so you must supervise your child whilst they’re using social platforms, and encourage them to discuss any issue they’re having — especially if they’re falling victim to cyberbullies.
Online Protection Tools
There is a huge range of tools that you can use when looking to protect the safety of your children whilst they use the internet.
Tools such as antivirus software, VPNs, and parental control apps will enable you to safeguard your children from the threats of internet use and will also give you the ability to monitor their activity online — ensuring that they’re using the internet sensibly.
You may be leaving your child’s device at risk if you’re not using reliable antivirus software.
These programs are designed to block cyber criminals from attempting to hack any digital devices — laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.
There’s a huge range of antivirus software that comes equipped with the tools to protect your child from the threats posed by cybercriminals. Some of the major antivirus software providers to consider include:
The majority of antivirus software platforms will provide efficient tools that will block your child from accessing malicious sites that contain malware. Heimdal’s DarkGuard immediately blocks connections with known malware sources and potentially unsafe websites that could compromise your child’s personal data.
Okay, so what’s a VPN? In simple terms, a VPN — which stands for «Virtual Private Network» — is a way for you to establish a secure connection online whilst using a potentially insecure network.
VPNs enable you to use the internet without the risk of cyber criminals being able to target your network’s location — potentially using this information to perform a cyberattack.
Some great VPN companies that you should consider include:
Many of the previously mentioned, antivirus software can come with awesome VPN functions built-in — so you can enjoy full protection, safeguarding your computer from malware whilst protecting your child from the threats of cybercriminals.
Parental Control Apps
Parental control apps are an amazing way to monitor your child’s online activity. Using these platforms, you can see what websites your child has visited, the content they’ve watched, or applications they’ve been using.
Using parental controls are key for any parents looking to ensure their child safety and wellbeing in the internet age.
Some of the best parental control apps include:
- Find My Kids app
- Net Nanny
- Google Chrome’s native parental controls
Using these apps, you’ll also be able to limit the amount of time your child is spending on the internet — meaning they’ll have more time to spend interacting with friends and family.
You’ll also be able to block specific websites before your child accesses them — including gaming sites and pornographic content.
Internet Safety & Technology Use Tips For Parents
Here’s a list of cyber safety tips that you can use to further ensure your child’s staying safe on the internet.
Educate Your Child On The Risks Of Internet Use
This point is crucial. As much as you need to educate yourself on the topic of internet safety for children, it’s also just as important to teach your kids how to stay safe online.
Be sure to discuss with them all the topics in this article — online predators, cybercriminals, malware, cyberbullying.
Just like you’d teach your child how to cross the street or to not speak to strangers, you must explain how the internet — if used incorrectly — can be an unsafe place.
Encourage Them To Talk
Encouraging an open discussion between yourself and your child — about internet safety — is extremely important.
If your child has any concerns whilst using the internet, they need to know that they can come to you and explain their issues.
If your child is the victim of cyberbullying, you need to let them know that they can come to you for advice and support.
Use Parental Controls
Parental controls are an awesome way to ensure your child isn’t accessing malicious content or websites that you don’t deem fit for them to use — including social networking sites such as Facebook & Twitter.
The controls are simple to use. For example, Google Chrome’s built-in parental controls will enable you to type in the websites that you want to prohibit your child from visiting — take YouTube.com as an example. If your child tries to access this site whilst using the internet, they are stopped immediately.
Setting Time Limits
It seems that everyone is constantly using the internet. Although it can be a great tool for kids — especially in terms of educational resources and entertainment — it can seriously hinder your child’s behaviour if used extensively.
This is why it’s important to set time parameters that ensure your child isn’t overusing their digital device. Instead, spending more time to interact with the world, their family, and their friends.
Setting Strong Passwords
When they’re signing up to specific websites, encourage them to create memorable — yet complex — passwords that will help to mitigate any risks of having their online accounts hacked.
Use The Best Internet Security Tools
As discussed previously, there’s a wide range of different security tools that will improve your child’s safety when they use the internet.
Using tools such as VPNs and antivirus software, you can be sure that your children will be blocked from harmful malware and the risks posed by cybercriminals — who intended to steal your child’s data for malicious purposes.
Teach Online «Stranger Danger»
The age-old saying «stranger danger» still applies in the internet age.
Be sure to teach your child that it is never safe to meet up with people who they’ve met online — reinforce the principle that strangers online can be and most likely are dangerous.
Many people, including children, can fall victim to seemingly innocent pop-ups and spam messages that have been developed by cybercriminals.
These pop-ups and spam messages can be very malicious — potentially giving your child’s device a computer virus.
Show your child the warning signs to look out for so they know to avoid them when they appear on the internet.
Always Supervise & Teach Internet Safety
You child shouldn’t be browsing the world wide web on their own — especially if they’re young.
When your child wants to use the internet, be sure to sit with them while they use it. You can use this time to see what activities they get up to when using the internet and you can act as their guide — educating them on how to be safe online.
Kids & Social Media
Social media is without a doubt one of the most revolutionary technologies of the 21st century.
Social media networks — such as Facebook — have billions of users worldwide. They can prove to be a great tool for enhancing social interaction, creating online communities, and promoting businesses.
However, when it comes to children using social media — especially if they’re new to the technology — there can be some major pitfalls that you must be aware of.
Issues With Social Media
As discussed previously, cyberbullying is rife in this internet age. With reports of cyberbullying on the rise, you need to be aware that your child could be at risk of being psychologically abused online.
The potential for your child to be targeted by online predators is also massively increased when they’re introduced to social media. Online predators often use social media profiles to disguise themselves as children who are similar ages to your child — something that you must make your child aware of when they begin to use social media networks.
Teaching your child tips to stay safe online is important — this is especially the case when it comes to social media.
You may want to determine the age that you’ll allow your child access to social media. Most social networks will not allow children under the age of 13 to create an account or to access the platform.
You may want to wait until your child reaches a certain level of maturity before they’re allowed to use social networking sites such as Facebook & Twitter.
Monitor Your Child’s Activity
When your child is using social media, you may want to monitor their activity — check what information they’re posting online, who they’re talking to, what content they’re engaging with, etc.
To do this, you can use parental control apps — such as the Find My Kids app — to see their action on social media sites and applications.
The Internet & Teens
When children reach a certain age — namely when they hit their teenage years — they may have different interests that could conflict with the internet safety rules you’d like them to follow.
In their teenage years, children may want to become more independent. However, granting them the freedom to fully explore the internet may prove to be a challenge for you.
Although granting your child the freedom to explore, you may still want to keep certain provisions in place to ensure they’re not overexposed to content that you’re not comfortable with them viewing.
In this instance, you can still apply the range of tools we’ve discussed previously — most notably the parental control apps and functions. This will give you peace of mind to give you teenage child the privacy they desire whilst using the internet, with the fear of them accessing malicious content online.
Your Child & Internet Safety: The Bottom Line
The internet can be an amazing resource. In this day and age, there’s no escaping how important it is for modern living.
Your children are most likely going to be growing up with the internet as it constantly evolves — this is why it’s extremely important to educate them on how to use the internet safely from an early age.
Many risks come with using the internet — especially when you grant your child permission to use it.
However, there are many tools you can use (VPNs, parental controls, antivirus software) and provisions you can put in place — such as time restrictions — to ensure your child is staying safe online.
To find out more on how to be an awesome parent in the digital age, check out the latest post on our blog.