Internet Safety Guidelines for Parents
Children are curious creatures who are magnificently eager to explore new experiences in life, and it’s not something we, as parents, can stop. However, we can ensure their safety – whether it’s wearing the right footwear dependent on the weather, or going online, keeping our children safe online is a priority.
Our children are now growing up in an age where technology and ‘going online’ is a natural aspect of life; smartphones, computers, smart TV’s, tablets, etc. Whether your child is 2 years old and smashing buttons on your phone whilst dribbling, or 13 years old and using social networking websites on a regular basis, being internet safety savvy is somewhat of an importance.
Granted, our children are likely to be more familiar with the internet and gadgets than us, but they probably don’t have the life-experience to be able to know what to do in certain situations. Which is why, us as peers, adults, and parents, must be aware of how to keep our children safe whilst they are online.
According to the BBC UK, there were an estimated 3.6 million fraud and computer misuse cases recorded in 2016; ‘The Crime Survey for England and Wales included the offences for the first time in its annual report, which covered the year to September’.
Social Media Safety
If you think, or you know that your child is being bullied on social media, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many things that you can do to put a stop to it. The first step is to discuss the matter with your child, as you would with physical bullying. Reassuring your child that they can talk to you about cyber bullying, without creating panic is a must. It can be hard for a child to discuss these matters with their parents, so creating a safe environment to discuss these issues is critical.
As well as discussing cyber bullying with your child, you can report the bullying to the social media platform itself by contacting them, including screenshots of the comments or messages to your child, as well as blocking the person who is bullying your child. Sometimes there can be multiple instances of cyber bullying, so ensure that you report everything that is relevant.
Age Related Content
Deciding whether to allow your child to join a social media platform is really dependent on whether you think, or know, the content they will or can be exposed to is appropriate. Most social media platforms have a minimum age of 13, and it’s there for a reason. Before deciding whether your child can have access to this content, it’s important to research the social media platform first. There are lots of social media platforms that contain age-appropriate content, such as, Kuddle – learn more about Kuddle here.
It’s advisable that you do follow the age restrictions for social media, however, if you do decide to allow your child access to content that may not be age-appropriate, ensure that you implement strict privacy settings which are available by most social media platforms.
Advertising your Home
It may not be an obvious or first thought, but when your child is posting on social media, they could be advertising your home to criminals. Ensure that any geo-location settings are disabled so that their friends, followers, or strangers cannot locate where your child lives. Many people tend to post information that they are going on holiday, and if you haven’t disabled geo-location, it can easily be detected by a criminal that your home will be empty, and the location of your home.
Make sure that your child understands the risks, and ensure that they do not share personal information with others. It’s important that you reiterate that your child can always talk to you if they are worried or concerned about their online activity.
Privacy settings are usually easily located on any social media platform. Through the privacy settings, you can ensure that your child’s social media account can only be seen or accessed by people that either they, or you know. For example, Facebook allows you to choose what content can be seen by others; friends, friends of friends, or anyone. Ensure that you take the time to look through your child’s privacy settings, and explain to them why it’s important to be strict – if they’re using social media to engage with their friends, they don’t need other people to access their content, only their friends.
We’re in a world where selfies are a ‘big thing’. Make sure that you take the time to discuss this topic with your child. Reassure them that if they feel pressured into posting selfies that they aren’t comfortable with, they can talk to you about their concerns at any point. Encourage your child to share content about their hobbies and interests rather than their personal image; friends that encourage inappropriate photos or pressure your child into sharing photos they don’t want to share, aren’t worth having as friends.
Anti Viruses & Illegal Downloading
The statistics you see above from Ofcom Children and Parents and Cybersafe Opinion Leader are quite alarming. Many children are eager to get online as they know that they can download music, TV Shows, films etc. as the internet gives you the capability to do so, but what many children and parents don’t realise is that it’s actually illegal to do so, unless you pay for a proper service.
Film and music industries monitor what’s being downloaded, and threfore you should be monitoring what your child is downloading, too. If your child downloads illegal content, you could be in the firing line as you will be held responsible for what they do. Discuss the risks with your child and explain the causes and effect.
As well as it being illegal, most websites that contain downloadable films, etc. often contain viruses or spyware within the content. Your child isn’t likely going to know if this happens, however, the likes of bloatware, trojjans, malware, and worms can all be downloaded at the same time.
What can you do to allow your child access to safe content?
Make sure that your child is aware about downloading safely and legally. There are many services that are available that will allow your children to watch their favourite films, and listen to their favourite music, without it being illegal. If your child finds a website they deem to be legal, make sure you do the appropriate research to ensure that this is the case.
Guide your children to safe sites where they can download legally, such as, iTunes, Amazon, etc. You can place limits on their accounts so that they can’t spend more than you allow them too; sharing this information with your child is important. If you don’t believe your child is acting legally, you can check their internet history; if you know that your child has been on their computer, smartphone, or tablet, but no internet history is available, this could be an early warning sign that your child is hiding information from you.
Ensure that your child has the most up-to-date anti virus installed on their PC or smart device; most anti-viruses will scan for harmful viruses that may already exist, and block new ones from ever existing at all.
Quick Tips for Parents
- Passwords – always ensure that your internet connection is secured with a password to stop others from accessing your wireless network.
- Parental Controls – these can be set on your child’s computer, smartphone, tablet, and games consoles to ensure your child doesn’t have access to inappropriate or illegal content.
- Antivirus – make sure you have the latest antivirus installed on any of your child’s devices. Antiviruses aren’t just limited to computers.
- Update – ensure that any device your child is using is up-to-date; operating system’s on computers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices should always be on the latest version.
- Advice – don’t be afraid to seek advice. There are many outlets and forums available for parents to ask questions. Reassure your child that they can talk to you and seek advice if they need to.