One of the greatest challenges facing parents these days is how to ensure that their children remain safe online. With so many young people now owning tablets, smartphones or PCs, it’s increasingly difficult to know what content they access and who they’re meeting on the Web.
Frankly, at times, online safety can seem overwhelming, but help is at hand. We have gathered a wealth of ideas, settings, and software that can help in the fight to protect your little ones as they venture out into the wilds of the Internet.
Talking is still the best solution
“Talking to your child is one of the best ways to keep them safe,” says the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). “Preventing your children from using the Internet or mobile phones won’t keep them safe online, so it’s important to have conversations that help your child understand how to stay safe and what to do if they ever feel scared or uncomfortable.”
Creating an awareness of the wonderful possibilities the Internet holds is a very positive approach, but it should definitely be augmented with conversations about the potential dangers of inappropriate content, cyberbullying, and talking to strangers. As your child grows older they will also need different levels of supervision, and conversations should be on going, rather than having ‘the one’. Many schools now include these subjects in lessons, which gives you an excellent opportunity to continue the discussion at home.
The CPS is also on their side against cyberbullies and fraudsters, and those who create fake social media profiles in order to troll or harass others could soon face charges. Cases will also follow if posts are indecent, grossly offensive or so false they cause distress and anxiety, reports the BBC.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t implement software restrictions to safeguard their Internet access. So much hard-core material is available online with a few key presses that it would be foolish to let your little ones loose in such a jungle without protection. But preparing your child for the eventual exposure to something adult is the wisest course; even if you successfully lock down your own home and devices, there will always be friends at school with tablets or phones and unfettered Internet access.
Online gaming risks
While much of the media focus tends to revolve around the problems children can encounter on social media sites such as Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram (all of which require account holders to be at least 13 years old) recent research from security experts Kaspersky labs has found that online gaming is now a real source of concern.
In a study of 11 to 16-year olds, Kaspersky discovered that 38 per cent of children had encountered people pretending to be someone else on gaming platforms, while 23 per cent had been asked personal or suspicious personal questions while online.
Perhaps the most worrying statistic though was that 20 per cent of the children interviewed said that they trusted the gaming platform so much that they would see no problem meeting contacts from it in real life. This is compounded by the fact that nearly a third of the children in the study said that their parents had no idea who they talked to when they played games online.