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How To Ensure The Online Safety Of Your Children
From teaching them how to cross the road to talking about sex, we take big precautions to protect our children from the dangers of the real world. But what about the virtual one? If us adults need to be reminded to keep our online security up-to-date, how are our children supposed to keep safe online?
Online child safety is a big topic, with everyone from the BBC to the FBI having an opinion. The security methods are equally diverse, ranging from mature discussions of internet dangers to full-time supervision of any internet-enabled device.
While different techniques will work better for different families, I’ve collated a bunch of opinions from around the web that should form the basis of your child’s security policy – and no-one should just rely on one method.
In no particular order:
- Parental Control software is useful for any age group, but its best used to stop young children discovering Father Christmas (if you’re under four, look away now) isn’t real or any other information that could cause distress. Norman offers software that has this function.*
- Keep the computer in a communal area. Not because you can monitor your child easier, but because you can be integrated in their computer experience. Try to make the communal computer as a source of mutual interest, rather than something to compete with. If the topic of websites you’d rather they didn’t visit comes up, you can discuss it head-on.
- Teach them to never meet an online friend offline unless you are with them.
- If you think they’re mature enough, discuss with them the dangers of the internet, legal issues, acceptable content etc. Many countries have implemented laws against piracy, but not all young people understand the possible legal consequences of for example downloading the latest episode of their favorite TV series. In worst case, you as the parent might be held responsible for any illegal activity in your home network.
- Try to guide your child to well-moderated sites. Chat rooms are a great way to make new friends, and moderated ones allow your children to interact in a safe environment.
- Remind your children to behave online like they would in real life, and if you discover they have behaved otherwise, discipline them in the same way.
- Make sure your children feel confident in talking to you about what they see on the internet – especially if it is a ‘bad’ site that they accidentally navigated to.
- Explain the dangers of downloading files from untrustworthy websites.
- When it comes to teenagers, remind your children that when it comes to online interaction, a private conversation can quickly become public or any pictures they have intended to send to one person only, can also end up spreading like wildfire.
Finally, watch-out for if a child suddenly stops using the computer. This could be a sign that they’ve been a victim of cyber-bullying and they may need support. Try asking why they have stopped using the computer to start a conversation.
*Norman Security Suite and Security Suite PRO come with Parental Control, that is simple to set up. The Parental Control function will enable you to for example restrict the time when your children can surf, and also where they surf – you can choose to restric access to certain websites (such as ones containing porn), or to only allow the children access specific websites you have set up, for example a moderated chat room or gaming site.
Made up of various contributors' opinions and insights - the power of the collective.
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