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How do I keep my family safe online?

familyIf you’re reading this, it’s highly likely that your family are either regularly using the internet already, or will do in the future. After all, can you imagine a future for your children without the internet?

Unlike the rest of the perils our families may face, the internet is an ever-changing and complicated place. When one website that can be harmful for children closes, two more will appear in its place. Therefore the best way to protect your family is not to place strict bans on certain websites or activities, but to work with your family to help them understand the threats they might face.

Google’s tips for family safety

Many websites offer advice on how to keep your family safe online, but some of the best tips come from Google’s extensive family safety centre, available in full here: https://www.google.co.uk/safetycenter/families/start/basics/.

The search engine offers a lot of information about how to keep your family safe online – too much to list here – but we’ll paraphrase some of the most important points that it makes:

Talk with your family about safety

Imagine that your child lives in two worlds: the real one and the virtual one. Now consider how many rules and boundaries they need to learn to be safe in the physical world – it’s more than just one or two tips, isn’t it? That’s why it’s important to encourage discussion around using the web – so that your family know that they can come to you for advise and guidance.

In these conversations, remember to be clear about your family’s rules and expectations around technology, the consequences for inappropriate use, and encourage your family to approach you with any concerns they might have.

Do it together

Not only does using technology together help your children learn key IT skills, but it is also creates opportunities for you to address safety topics as they arise.

Discuss what sites – and services – are appropriate

Talk with your family about websites and services, discussing which ones they like to visit and what type of content is appropriate for each family member. For example, teenagers may have very different interests – and therefore concerns – than a pre-teen.

Protect your computer

Ensure that your computer is kept safe using anti-virus software. This will help prevent security slip-ups and ensure that if someone does make a mistake – downloading malware, for example – it won’t affect other users.

Use proper privacy settings

Make sure that your family – you included – use appropriate privacy settings on social websites. For example, Facebook allows you to set-up your profile so that only your family and friends can see your pictures and information. A couple of tweaks, however, will open your information up to everyone on the internet. Scary.

When you and your family sign up for a new internet service, make sure that you visit the account settings and privacy pages on that website to ensure that you’re not giving away more information than you want to.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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