Living completely free from the Internet is impossible in modern times. So when it comes to matters of cybersecurity, it is agreed that the best we can do is to take measures to mitigate the risk of becoming victims of cybercrime. The same is true for parents who wish to protect their children from the perils of the Internet. In this article, we look at ways for parents to ensure that their children are safe online.
The following are our top cyber safety measures that parents should put in place.
Start keeping track of children’s online activity early
To ensure that their children are safe online, it is imperative that parents be in the know about their children’s activities online. This includes everything that can fall under one’s digital footprint, including websites visited, files downloaded, and search engine queries, among others. In addition to that, parents also need to limit the time that children spend online. The Internet can easily become addictive and children are especially vulnerable to picking up bad habits in the absence of proper guidance.
Keeping track of children’s online activity is not easy and many parents may not have the time or the skills to offer their children direction on how to safely use the Internet. For this reason, a majority of parents simply rely on software to filter out potentially harmful content. However, for best results, it is advisable to take the time to learn effective ways of teaching your children the proper way to use the Internet.
Use a VPN to keep their online activities safe and secure
Hard as you may try, it’s impossible to keep track of all your children’s online activity all the time, especially as they get older and begin to demand some privacy. You don’t want to be too nosey so there are times when you need to give them space to explore the Internet. But that is not to say that you should leave them unprotected.
The most effective way of ensuring that your children’s online activity is private and secure is by protecting them using a VPN. This technology encrypts the online traffic on the devices your children are using, making it impossible for hackers to snoop on them and use the information gathered for nefarious purposes. Use a leading VPN that offers powerful encryption, a wide range of security protocols and an intuitive interface that the kids can easily use.
In as simple terms as possible, try your best to teach your children the importance of using a VPN to stay safe. A VPN is only useful when it’s turned on and if the children fail to do this, it won’t offer them any protection. The children are more likely to be cooperative if they have some basic understanding of why a VPN is important.
Use other online tools to keep your child safe
Besides a VPN, there are other online tools that you can use to ensure your children are protected while they’re online. And you’ll need a number of them if the amount of time your children are spending in front of their screens worries you.
Below are some apps and programs that are popular with parents.
- Net Nanny: Stops children from viewing inappropriate.
- Circle with Disney: Offers full control of content.
- Family Link by Google: Control usage of apps.
- Anazon Freetime: Offers integrated parental control.
- Qustudio: Supervises and monitors children’s online activity.
- Norton Family: Protects your children’s personal information
- Ourpact: Location tracking
Encourage common sense and critical thinking
Needless to say, caution should be exercised whenever one is online, whether you’re an adult or a kid. In the same way we have learned to use our common sense and think things through as we navigate the web and interact with content, we should also take our time to teach our kids to be critical thinkers. This makes it less likely that they will fall prey to online scams and tricks that would compromise their security.
Enable safety settings on major websites
Most major websites have settings for filtering content depending on the audience. Enable these settings. For example, turn on Google’s ‘Safe Search’ feature for all devices that your children use to access the Internet. The same goes for other websites such as YouTube and Netflix. This adds another layer of safety above the installation of the tools mentioned earlier.
Learn about Social Networks
At some point, your children will insist on opening an account on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. Not to mention instant messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp among others.
Learn about the nature of the content that is typically shared on these websites and apps. Also, educate yourself on the risks involved with using them. Thereafter, make an effort to pass on that knowledge to your children in a way that they can easily understand. Setting rules and using software might be useful, but in the end, you want to equip them with a mindset that prioritizes their online security.
Understand the nature and risks online gaming
Online gaming makes it possible to play with other players across the world in real time. It can be a great way for children to immerse themselves in a world of adventure. However, it is also important to make sure that they’re safe and that the games they play online are appropriate for their age.
Find out what types of games your children are playing. Also, find out who they’re playing with online and what kind of language is used when they live chat using headphones. Make sure your children are aware that the gaming websites have avenues for reporting abusive and anti-social users. Only allow age-appropriate games and let the children understand why only those games are allowed.
Keep children safe from online violence
Just as children should be restricted from violence on TV, they should also not watch it online. The effect of online violence on a child is just as bad as the effects of porn and online bullying. There are many online communication channels that can be potentially upsetting to children, but YouTube is the most prevalent. If you’re going to start somewhere, start with the most established and popular websites.
Work with the school and other parents
Taking responsibility for your own child and making an effort to play an active role in your children’s online activity will certainly yield results. However, working together with the school administration and other parents to share thoughts and ideas for protecting children online is bound to produce far more results. When the school suggests practices that may be useful in that endeavor, they are worth giving a try.
Model the right online behavior
Children are observant and they look to adults to determine what the proper behavior. It is, therefore, imperative that you practice what preach and use the Internet in a way that is constructive to serve as a good model for your children. If you’re always on the gaming console or streaming content from Netflix for hours while neglecting your responsibilities, it is likely that your children will follow suit.