Keeping Your Kids Safe Online – Tips For Parents

For many parents, the internet offers entertainment, distraction and a wonderful learning tool for their children. But how do you make sure your kids aren’t accessing anything they shouldn’t be?

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It’s a challenge facing most mums and dads in the digital age, one which is only getting harder as our reliance on devices, software and the Internet of Things continues to grow. From protecting your data and login security to safeguarding against online scams and inappropriate content, there’s plenty to keep your eye on.

A recent study led by Netmums revealed shocking statistics on internet use by children, and the lack of protection in place to keep them safe. The survey found that just under three in 10 parents (29%) allowed their kids to use the internet without any restrictions or supervision. A further 25% of children frequently get away with pretending to be older to create an account online. This can only spell trouble in the long run, and easily avoidable when you consider the range of online safety options that are now available.

Let’s take a look at some of the essentials.

Invest in a VPN

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VPN Green” (CC BY 2.0) by Infosec Images

A solid VPN (Virtual Private Network) offers a high level of protection from malware, viruses, third parties and hackers. Even as adults, we need to be on our guard to ward off all the potential dangers and threats we face online. Children are an easy target and can be tricked into sharing sensitive information such as credit card details, often through fake online games or movies that can be downloaded online.

Protect your smartphone (and theirs!)

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smartphone” (CC BY 2.0) by Witches Falls Cotages

If your child owns a smartphone or tablet – or they frequently use yours – it’s highly likely they will eventually begin to stray away from their favourite game or app into the unknown online world. That’s when problems can start to crop up, especially when you have no protective measures in place.

All modern smartphones now come with the option to restrict access to certain apps, browsers and social media networks. Take a look in your ‘Settings’ menu for more information. Many service providers also give parents the option to set limits on text, call and data usage, as well as adding parental control filters and extra security when it comes to inputting bank and purchase details. Again, there’s always extra help available, and plenty of tailor-made parental control apps to help manage every possible blind spot.

It’s worth making a checklist of all the devices and software that your child will be using, then ensuring that you have a VPN in place to protect each of them. If you’re struggling to cover all the bases, magazines like VPNBase even offer their own custom kids’ guide to the internet, which aim to help parents to ensure their children stay protected online at all times.

Set clear rules and consider limiting use

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Children at school” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Lupuca

Of course, this one is easier said than done for all of us. Yet it stands to reason that one of the best ways to avoid threats to your children’s safety online is to limit their exposure to the internet. There are plenty of novel ways to do this, such as only allowing children to use the internet in a communal area, which should make it easier to spot any inappropriate activity.

Another idea is to reset the WiFi password every day or two, only letting your kids know the answer once all their chores for the day are complete. Whichever way you decide to go, remember that the most important thing is to talk to your child and make sure they understand the potential dangers of the internet in an appropriate way. There is clearly acceptable and unacceptable behaviour – but children can’t be blamed for doing something if you haven’t set any boundaries.

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