Let’s be honest, the internet isn’t pretty. From explicit content to grooming, your child could be one click away from horror.
So, what can you do keep your child safe online? Is this even possible?
We have procured all the best information to ensure your child learns positive internet habits and is safe online. Read on to find out more.
What Risks Could Your Child See Online?
As your child grows up, they will begin to take an interest in sex, but it’s important they cannot access pornography so easily. This could give them a distorted view of the way relationships or sex really are.
Through TV and video games, children now more than ever are exposed to violent content and this is a major concern. Parents should show caution to minimise exposure to violent content.
Video games have age ratings for reason and the three you need to pay attention to are PEGI 12, PEGI 16, PEGI 18.
‣ PEGI 12 (12 and up) - You can expect to see more graphic and realistic violence towards fantasy characters with some mild swearing.
‣ PEGI 16 (16 and up) - This will start to show more violence towards human characters with some gory and bloody violence. Bad language coupled with alcohol, tobacco and the use of illegal drugs can also be expected at this rating.
‣ PEGI 18 (18 and up) - This is when the violence becomes gross. Violence against vulnerable people along with violence against innocents can be used. These games will include detailed descriptions of criminal techniques and glamorise the use of illegal drugs.
Ensure you by games that are appropriate for your child’s age to prevent him from viewing graphic content.
If it’s illegal offline, it’s illegal online. This can include racist material, obscene adult content and images of child sexual abuse. If you or your child comes across such content online, you can safely report this anonymously to your local authorities.
Children are naturally curious, which can unfortunately lead them to dangerous sites or forums online that may be promoting extreme political or religious views.
For children you have no understanding of their political or religious views can research online and find hate groups opposing LGBT rights, minorities rights, racial equality and gender equality.
These groups could try to take advantage of your child, which is why it’s crucial to make them aware of this information.
Music, Games, Film & TV
While Spotify and Netflix may be legal services, services like this exists online that are illegal.
Streaming allows you to access live content online. Spotify and YouTube are legal examples as they allow you to watch music, films and videos often for free, but you are not allowed to make a permanent copy.
Some content is made legal from blogs. However, links from blogs to music, film or TV stored on cyberlockers (online storage services) are generally illegal.
Crooks will often use email scams on clickjacking to tempt children into clicking a link that downloads malware onto their system or encourage them to share personal information.
Clickjacking is a popular scam that is found on social networking sites which involves a funny video with a caption saying “OMG! You’ll never guess what happened next!”, or a fake app that allows children to see who has viewed their profile.
Phishing emails from alleged social networking sites will encourage your child to reveal personal information on fraudulent websites. Remember that banks or social networking sites will never send an email asking for your personal information.
How to Install Parental Controls
One of the easiest option available to keep your child safe is installing parental. This can be set up on broadband, mobile, tablets and even on games consoles.
If your child has an iPhone or iPad you can set up parental control by going to settings, general, restrictions, enable restrictions and then create a passcode that only you would know. By enabling family sharing, any app your child wishes to download will require your approval. That’s not all.
If an app or feature is turned off under restrictions, your child will be unable to use them. For example, if you don’t want your child to use social media on their phone, you can stop their access to social media apps by turning this feature off.
Furthermore, you can set restrictions to prevent them from accessing music, TV, websites or films with explicit content.
To set up parental control on an android phone or tablet drag down from the top of the screen and then drag down further until you see a settings cog icon.
Tap this icon and then scroll until you find users. The location of ‘users’ may vary depending on the model, but the route is the same. You can then press add user to create an account. Here you can sync their google account and determine the list of google services you would like on your phone. Once finished, create the password and you have made their account.
Once you’ve created their account, you can determine what content they download from the play-store by setting up parental controls.
‣ Open the play store
‣ Go to menu, settings and then tap parental control
‣ Here you can switch parental controls on by typing a pin only you would know
‣ Once this is done, you can determine what content you child views by setting an age rating
You can prevent your child from buying in app content or paid for apps in the play store settings. In the play store app, tape the menu icon and then settings. Click require authentication for purchase and tap for all purchases. This way, your google is required every time your child wants to buy something.
Children spend a lot of time on games console like Xbox, so it’s important to regulate what they can see on this device.
Set up parental controls on the console by going to settings, then family. Select the gamertag of the child whose settings you want to change and under privacy & online settings, select change settings.
Here you can restrict games based on their content rating. You can also place a family timer to limit the time a console can be used on a daily or weekly basis and create a passcode, to prevent these parental controls from being changed.
When you’ve finished update the settings and then exit the screen to save.
Similar to Xbox, this is set up by accessing settings on the home screen and clicking parental controls.
You’ll then be presented with two options: Restrict use of PS4 features and Sub Account Management. Select sub account management. Through here you can control what functionality they can have. You can determine what games or DVD’s are allowed to play, along with time restrictions on the console itself.
Game restrictions are based on a scale of 1-11 with 1 being content for young children, and 11 showing graphic, mature content for adults. You can also restrict their use of the internet browser entirely if you see fit.
Go Online Together
For all the possible risks of the internet, it is still a great resource for education and fun. Exploring the internet together and discussing what is suitable and what isn’t is a great way for them to learn about the possible dangers of the online world.
By involving them in the discussion this will encourage them to be more comfortable in bringing problems to your attention. When they’re older you won’t need to be looming over them whilst they’re online, but you should be nearby checking frequently.
Being able to communicate clearly about the internet is a great way of introducing positive internet habits into your child’s lives.
Rules You Can Set Your Child
The amount of screen time your children are allowed should be set by you. Having a contract next to the computer stipulating their allowance (1 hour a day) and the consequences if these rules are broken will ensure there is no confusion.
Not befriending anyone they don’t know, keeping personal conversations with friends to real-life and not giving away personal information online are great rules to implement for your child.
As they grow up and mature you can allow more freedom as they develop responsible internet habits, but you can still limit their time spent online.
Here is an example of what your contract could look like.
How You Can combat Cyberbullying
The internet and social media have changed the way in which children experience bullying. Cyberbullying can reach you across multiple platforms and is increasingly common in the digital age. This could involve sending messages by mobile phone, over social media, sharing images or personal information.
Being connected to internet all day, every day and users being able to hide behind fake profiles or an anonymous profile can make cyberbullying very difficult to combat.
If you think your child is being bullied online, listen to what they have to say and praise them for speaking out. By blocking or reporting online bullies you can stop them from reaching you online. It would a good idea to save any evidence of bullying, in case threats become increasingly more violent, you can go to the police.
In some cases, your child could be the bully. It’s important to remember we all make mistakes and we can all learn from them. Listen to your child’s side of the story and find out the facts. They could have been provoked or they could have been bullied initially, but that is still not an excuse.
Talk to them and help them understand how what they do or say online, or offline can hurt someone’s feelings. Speaking to friends, family and even school staff could enlighten as to why your child is acting this way.
The best way to make your chid aware of cyberbullying, is to have a conversation with them. You can begin this conversation by asking what they would do if they saw someone being bullied, online or offline.
Let them know you are available at any time to listen to them about any concerns they have and encourage them to come to you when they need advice.
Keeping Tabs on Your Child Online
By be-friending your child on social media sites, you can monitor their activity online and know who they’re speaking to on social media.
You can also keep the computer in a common area. This will make supervising your child online a lot easier and give you a chance to intervene if they go somewhere online they shouldn’t.
With multiple devices available that can connect to the internet, this can be tricky to enforce. However, this can be easily solved by setting any devices to forget the Wi-Fi code, so they cannot get online without your permission.
Software has been developed by manufacturers to specifically monitor children’s online activity. Apps like Qustodio and Nischint are great in observing your child’s online habits and protecting them online.
There are also devices you can purchase to control your kid’s online activities. Circle with Disney connects with your home Wi-Fi and using an app on your mobile allows you to control every device on the network. Devices can be blocked entirely from using the internet and you can even limit how much time is spent on one app. This will set you back £98 though and you can have the same effect by logging in to your router and setting up restrictions on there. Every router is different, so check your user guide for how to do this.
These tips can be implemented immediately to help keep you child safe online and give you some peace of mind.
You will certainly receive some resistance (you wouldn’t be parents if you didn’t!), but when they’re older they’ll thank you for keeping them safe – and that’s the important thing.
Do you have any more ideas? Comment below and we will add the very best ones in our next blog post!