Protecting your kids online. When your children use the internet they are exposed to a multitude of dangers, yet the internet is such a powerful tool for education and interaction that it would be difficult to keep children from using it. How then can you protect your children, so that they can gain the benefits of the net without the risks?
Older children can be taught how to handle strangers online, and what is and is not appropriate. They can also be taught how to seek help when they find themselves in a situation where they feels uncomfortable. Younger children however will not have these same coping mechanisms.
The most basic of threats tends to come from the advertisements that websites may display. The site may otherwise be safe for your child, but may sell ad space to outside sites that may not be so picky. Ad blocking extensions can be added to many browsers that will allow you to block the majority of ads, so that your children don’t see them.
Search results are another major problem. Your child may have heard something in the school yard and deliberately search out these incredibly inappropriate subjects. Again there are child safe search engines that can be used instead.
Chat rooms are far harder to protect against since so many will run just in a browser window. Routers can sometimes be configured to block certain terms, functioning as a filter that blocks websites that have these terms in the URL. This can be configured through your router’s administration panel.
Thankfully there are software suites that can make a computer safe. Net Nanny is one of the best established and most popular, but there are other options available too. Child safe web browsers that limit what the child can see and do are also an option, and perfectly suited to the youngest of users who need only a browser and no access to the rest of the PC. They may allow for several profiles to be set up, each allowing access to only the websites that the parents specifically set as being OK, and both these and the larger software suites are capable of blocking access to chat rooms and other features online.
The simplest tool that a parent has when it comes to protecting their children in the online world is supervision. No other tools can adequately replace the oversight of a parent when it comes to protecting your kids online because so many of the tools can be circumvented by a smart child who has learned their way around the computer at school. Having the family computers always within the sight of the parents and checking in with them regularly can help prevent them from straying from the family rules.
Education is equally important. Children need to know why it is so important to not share personal information. They may not actually know what constitutes personal information when it comes to the net, and may need help to see why telling someone what sports clubs they are in and at what school could be dangerous.
Tools such as Net Nanny will only protect your children for so long. Ultimately you need to equip them to deal with the very real threats that they will face once the tools are no longer there to support them and that’s where your careful intervention comes in.