Keeping Kids Safe Online

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Schools remain closed in much of the world. Most educational institutions now conduct classes online. Children spend more time online than ever before. Not all of this time is spent on academic pursuits. Social media, online gaming, and web browsing are some online activities that kids commonly engage in. As parents we have a responsibility to protect our children from harmful online influences. Yet, we are physically incapable of supervising all of their online time. Here are some solutions.

Parental controls

UNICEF has found that unsupervised internet use can be harmful to kids. Parental controls are among the most versatile and comprehensive resolutions to the issue. Access restrictions allow parents to mark specific categories of content as appropriate or restricted. Parents can allow children to browse online content marked as safe. Unsafe sites are automatically blocked as per defined filters. Parents can choose to filter incoming and outgoing data traffic. There can be different levels of restriction set on any number of different user accounts or devices. Parents can even limit internet access to specific hours of the day. All online activity can be logged and reported. Parents can choose to receive real-time alerts, periodic reports, or both. Often, monitoring itself acts as an effective deterrent.

There are many vendors that offer parental control software with different features. For example Kaspersky family security cloud can be used with up to 20 devices. It comes with a 30-day free trial, and is available for Windows, Android, and iOS. The subscription is affordable, and the user reviews are good.

Communication

Talking to children about their online activities can be useful in several ways. It is an opportunity to know about their online interests and social media friends. Talking about online activities is a chance to discuss internet safety. Parents are the best people to educate kids about important aspects such as responsible online shopping, safely using credit cards on the internet, sharing appropriate amounts of personal information on social media, and so on. Online etiquette is another important matter to discuss with kids. UNICEF advises parents to be on the alert whenever children appear to be upset or secretive about their online time.

Security apps

Millions of people use their computers and phones to send money online to support families, pay employees, purchase services, and so on. It is important to protect personal and financial information. Antivirus applications are now commonplace. However, these are only as good as the most recent update. Keep applications updated. Steer clear of pirated software. These precautions are particularly important for those of us who bank online. Keeping ourselves safe is the first step to keeping children protected.

Understanding online safety

We must practice before we preach. CNN suggests that as parents we must educate ourselves first. Too many adults still fall prey to online scams and phishing. Learning to distinguish between actual and fake, secure and unsecured, genuine and scam, is fundamental. Limiting the information we share on social media and using more secure passwords for the many online accounts we have are simple, yet effective measures. In our online behavior and habits we must set examples for our kids to follow.

Final thoughts

An important aspect of keeping kids safe online is to limit their online time. The best way to do this is to cultivate healthy habits. Spend time with kids doing things that the whole family enjoys. Create avenues for the children to willingly reduce their time spent on video games and social media. This is the best form of parental control.

Lastly, we must provide support. Understanding and kindness trumps supervision and monitoring. We must reassure kids that we as parents are available to give guidance and support, not just for online matters, but always and for everything.

About the author:

Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.

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