The Internet is a wonderful world to explore. It's full of awesome resources, information and fun. However it also has its darker side. It's full of danger and there are dangerous people looking for your children. Let's take a look at how you can keep your children safe on the Internet so that your broadband remains an exciting place to journey from, rather than a horror story waiting to happen.
Kids are Internet Savvy
These days, children are more digital savvy than ever before. It is their natural environment. Two year olds are scrolling through tablets, playing games and even downloading apps. They are growing up with the Internet and therefore are used to the technology. Touchscreens are second nature to them and a skill that is learned much as we learned to read and write as kids ourselves.
Many children these days are able to use the touchscreen tablet way before they can write, or even draw a square. Their environments are intuitive, and so they learn very fast. However, no matter the age of your children, from 2 to 18, you need to ensure that you take the necessary measures to keep them safe online. This means that when they browse some websites, jump onto some networking sites and chat with friends or on instant message systems they'll follow certain rules and be protected.
So let's take a look at some of the dangers that manifest themselves online and then go through some advice to ensure that the right things are in place to help you protect them from any dangers.
We'll look at everything from software applications such as Digital Nanny through to simply monitoring what your children are doing online and on their phones.
Taking these precautions can help you to ensure that bullying, illegal downloads and even identity theft are prevented as well as stopping threats that can cause serious psychological and maybe even physical damage to your children.
Even if you haven't personally seen some of the darker side of the Web, it's easy to imagine the kinds of things that can be stumbled upon. The most obvious type of content you don't want to see of course is pornography. Children could get onto Web sites full of indecent images and videos without even knowing they were going there.
Just by clicking a few links or entering some search terms they could end up psychologically damaged. Older children of course may actively seek out such content and you need to ensure that you are preventing them from doing so.
As well as pornography there are gambling sites, websites that promote the use of drugs and guns, and lots of other sites that you really don't want them to be feasting their brains on.
You even have to be careful on You Tube these days with certain videos with the kids featuring obscenities and bad language, and so a simple search for a character such as Dora the Explorer can end up in tears.
There are two main ways that you can block a Web site. The first is by using a software application, either free or paid for. The second is to actually block the Web site from your PC.
In order to block from your computer you should go to c:windowssystem32driversetc. Then when you double click on hosts and select notepad, you'll be opened up to the commands where you can block certain Web sites. Take the cursor and place it next to the end of the line with the name such as, 127.0.0.1 local host. Start a new line and then type 127.0.0.1 tap the spacebar and then put the address that you want to block such as www.youtube.com.
Go through this process for all of the Web sites that you want to block and you'll end up with no access for those Web sites on the computer through any browser. Make sure that you remember to save the file and commit the changes. Close all browsers reopen them and then you can check if the edits to your system have worked: They should have.
There are many applications available that can block Web sites; a simple search for ‘control Internet usage’ on a search engine such as Google will offer up a number of options.
Protecting Children on Social Networks
Facebook and other social sites are fantastic places for your children to socialise and to connect with their friends. However you have to be careful who is interacting with them, and you need to ensure that their privacy is maintained. There are many cases where people have had their identity stolen because their kids left the door open through social networks.
Therefore you should ensure that the correct security settings are set on all messages and on accounts and that all personal details are left out when talking with friends.
Simply chatting with your children explaining exactly what they should and shouldn't do online is a great way to move forward with this. It's also important that you nurture a culture of openness so that they will talk to you about any issues that they have online.
Be Careful with Online Games
Online games are a time when your children are at their most open and vulnerable. There are lots of people talking to your children and it's important that you monitor this and understand what's actually going on. Sometimes these games are used as a place for grooming by paedophiles and sometimes children are subjected to bullying by their so-called friends.
It's important that you ensure that they are safe through this process. A good way is to interact with them and enjoy the games with them so that you know more about their online lives.
Malware, Spyware and Adware
It's very easy for children to download damaging programs to your devices. These can potentially steal your data or at the very least interfere with the correct running of your system.
Make it clear that any downloads should be passed by you before they are proceeded with to ensure that they are safe both for them and for the computers themselves.
The online world is a fantastic place for your kids and they're going to grow up with it and enjoy it for many years to come. It's well worth looking into the best Internet security software and monitoring tools so that you can keep them safe in the fledgling years of their Internet usage.
It's also a good idea to ask your Internet service provider what they have in the way of tools to help you protect your children.