Protecting Kids Online :- 8 Actionable Tips for Parents
Millennia children know more about the internet and information technology than their parents. As a fact, parents have resulted in continue learning about the internet with most being taught by their children, a truth which speaks to the vulnerability of children on the internet.
The internet is in itself a relatively new concept. Parents and indeed the general populous are still learning about how far reaching the internet can be and the extent of the danger that children are exposed.
Since there are no written rules on how people should conduct themselves on the internet, parents are continually grappling with new realities of the dangers of the internet for their children.
What to Do?
Be that as it may, the internet is here to say. This means that parents have to educate themselves and become comfortable with the existence of the internet.
The internet has to become synonymous with other dangers that parents have to monitor like drugs, which movies and TV shows their children watch, and the places they go with their friends.
Safer browsing and secure online activity is a concern for most of the online businesses and websites. Continued measures have been taken to safeguard the interests of clients as well as customers.
On the home front, parents have to track their children’s online activity and consequently install security measures to protect sensitive information as well as the child’s privacy.
As much as we would all love one all-encompassing solution to online dangers, there is no such thing. You have to employ several measures to ensure the protection and prevention of the risks that come with browsing.
Also Check :- Guide to Online Privacy
Dangers of the Internet to your Child
In this modern world, there is no comprehensive learning without the use of the internet. Books are quickly becoming obsolete, and therefore parents have to learn to accept the role of the internet in the learning process.
However useful as it may be, the internet is rife with dangers, especially for children. These include:
1. Cyber Bullying
While old-school bullying used to leave visible scars, the new age bullying is all done online. Now bullies can embarrass and scar your child without ever lifting a finger to them.
They employ tactics like starting rumors on favorite teenage social media sites, posting embarrassing material like pictures with the
intention of humiliating them, gossiping and alienating your child, or emailing threatening material.intention of humiliating them, gossiping and alienating your child, or emailing threatening material.
2. Cyber Predators
This is one of the worst results the internet has had on our society. Pedophiles, child molesters, rapists, and perverts now have a super highway to access children without ever leaving their homes.
These adults go online seeking to exploit vulnerable children and adolescents for sexual molestation and other abusive purposes.
They open accounts on social media sites frequented by children and teens and interact with them pretending to be peers. They can now locate, target, and lure vulnerable children into their traps without using the old ways which were more accessible to track.
3. Exploitation of Private Information
Children are naturally naïve to the dangers lurking in the use of the internet. Unbeknownst to them, they may post personal information on the internet in a bid to connect to friends without realizing that the data can be used for other sinister purposes.
While you are savvy in recognizing a phishing email, your child is not. It is imperative to ensure your child does not fall victim to phishing emails or other scams like lottery scams, bank scams or friend request scams by educating them on the various phishing schemes and their implications.
5. Downloading Malware
Also called malicious software’s, these are applications designed to gain access to your computer or network. Most of the malware lure online users into clicking them and are mainly created by hackers and bad actors.
They can scheme through your personal and financial information or spy on you gathering sensitive information.
In many cases, the malware can be delivered using external devices. Your children and their cheeky friends can quickly fall victim.
Measures for Online Child Protection
Much as we as parents are already ill-equipped to deal with the dangers of the internet, we must keep at it.
As earlier stated, we all would love to acquire a one-stop-shop device to do the work for us, but that is a pipe dream.
Therefore, there are several measures outlined below that we can employ to secure the internet for our children.
We need to stay informed of the changing dynamics of the internet and keep updating our security measures.
1. Setting Up Virtual Private Network in Your Home Network
Also abbreviated as VPN, a Virtual Private Network is an application that extends a private network to a public or home network.
All applications and activities that run through and across VPN have the benefits of functionality, security, and anonymity courtesy of the management of the private network.
The applications of VPN technology and operating protocols ensures that the user is secured from bad actors while the success of VPN network depends on its management and the ability of the system to provide enough security for its user.
VPNs enable users to access data anywhere securely and remotely with your IP address hidden, masking your identity and location through proxy servers, and ensuring connections stay anonymous.
It is advisable to use VPN networks especially as a safeguarding tool for our young ones. Virtual Private Networks increase your privacy and security for you and your children.
Also Check :- types of vpn
2. Setting Parental Controls in Applications
This is among the most critical steps in ensuring online safety for your children. Parental control of all the devices that children have access to allows you to restrict child’s access, limiting their exposure to wrong websites, and inappropriate content.
The most frequented sites like YouTube have inbuilt parental control measures. All there is to do is activate them, and your child will not be exposed to content beyond their age.
You can also help your children set up privacy controls on their social media sites. These include restricting access to their personal information, keeping their sensitive details like location hidden and screening friend requests.
3. Installing Effective Anti-Virus on Your Home System and Your Child’s Computer
Antivirus is always imperative for all devices accessing the internet. A good anti-virus will block malicious websites and files as well as offer parental controls to prevent adult and inappropriate content.
An anti-virus works hand in hand with a VPN. Once you have both installed in all your devices, you can rest assured that malicious software and dangerous pop-up sites will not show up on your children’s devices.
Good antiviruses also have parental control measures that you can take to restrict inappropriate content and sites further.
4. Educating Your Child on The Dangers of Online Activity Including the Risks Involved in Sharing Personal Information.
It is a decisive role of the parent to educate their child about online safety; there is no way around it. Parents should teach their kids because this knowledge and education is the fundamental principle of keeping their kids safe.
Among the things you should warn your kids about include:
Ultimately, the lessons about what or what not to share online is a crucial one. You need to lead by example and show your children on your sites the kind of information that is safe to share.
Also, it is wise to “befriend” your children on social media sites to keep a close eye on what is happening.
Cover the topic of cyberbullying extensively to ensure your children understand the implications of being bullied as well as the consequences of cyberbullying.
As the law continues to evolve around internet crimes, cyberbullying now attracts a prison sentence alongside hefty fines. It is vital that your children understand that it is not an issue to be taken lightly.
5. Keep Tabs on the amount of Time your Children Spend Online
As parents, it is imperative to limit the amount of time your children spend online. This way, if your children need the internet for homework research and such, they know there is only a finite amount of time to access it and less time to nose around looking for trouble.
There are Apps for this very purpose. You can install Apps that control and limit the amount of time your child browses the internet.
Alternatively, some Apps can remotely report your child’s online activities directly to your phone. You get to see the sites they have visited, their chats, emails, location, and all the other details you need. Too much spying? I think not!
6. Set up “Safe Mode” Accounts for your Children
In homes where devices are shared, it is wise to set up a separate account for each of your children.
Not only will it nurse a sense of privacy for them, but you can also implement individual parental controls on each, depending on the age of your child.
Additionally, only install kid-friendly search engines and Apps on these accounts so that you are assured that your child is browsing safely.
7. Secure Their Online Gaming Consoles
Video Games are all the rage among children and teens. It is, therefore, essential to ensure your child stays safe even as they play their video games. Online gaming consoles have always had a multiplayer component to make the gaming more fun.
There are, however, other games that are solely online games which often permit gamers around the world to chat with one another. These games have the potential of exposing kids to harassment and cyberbullying.
Playing the same game for months can breed health senses of kinship between your child and an online stranger.
The relationship may be so intimate that your kid may eventually share personal information. The best way to deal with this kind risk is to disallow purely online games with the chatting option, limit the amount of time for playing video games, and employ the use of a good VPN.
These measures, coupled with extensive education on the dangers of anonymous online relationships will set your child straight when it comes to online games.
8. Make use of Lock-In Apps
The demographic using mobile devices and accessing the internet is growing younger every year.
Children as young as two years know how to operate mobile devices and have no qualms about sitting for hours playing “candy crush” or some other game.
To keep this demographic safe, consider the use of lock-in Apps. These Apps are designed to keep the child on the same program and restrict wandering the device and “discovering” other sites.
Lock-in Apps are absolutely genius in keeping children in check. Once they are bored with a particular game, then they will need an adult to change the game and once again, apply the Lock-in.
Keep in mind that the internet is in an ever-dynamic state. As parents get smarter and seal the loopholes for safety, so do the internet’s bad actors.
Wherefore, parents need to stay vigilant and informed to catch up on the latest schemes used by hackers, pedophiles, child molesters, and phishers to mention a few.
That being said, the basic rules for staying safe to remain the same. Get yourself a good Anti-virus alongside a good VPN, exert parental controls, use the Apps available to your like the Lock-in Apps, the Spy Apps, and the various other Apps geared towards ensuring safe browsing for your kids.
And most importantly, educate your children about the dangers of the internet. Knowledge is power and the more naïve your kids are, the more vulnerable they are.
And finally, involve other parents in the rally towards better internet safety for your kids. If your children, as well as their friends at home and in school, are all well informed, the risk of falling into bad practices is significantly reduced; after all, it takes a village, right?