Online security

25 August 2016

Internet: how to protect your kids

Nowadays kids are “connected” from their infancy. They are growing up in the digital era. Social networks, applications, games, etc. Their possibilities to access the internet are ever more numerous. Obviously our connected world offers many advantages yet it is not without danger for our children. This is why it is important to teach them the right way to behave when surfing the web. Here is some advice.

Internet behaviour

When they are surfing the web and interacting with online communities, your children can act differently than in their “everyday” life. The feeling of anonymity is likely to give them a certain power which makes them more aggressive or hurtful towards other children. It is called cyber-bullying. Your kids can also be on the other side of the screen and suffer from such bullying. Then they become victims. This trend cannot be taken lightly; it can be fraught with consequences.

Who is behind the screen?

How can you be sure that the people interacting with your kids on the internet are actually who they claim to be? Kids are likely to forget that the lack of physical presence can be dangerous. It is very easy to create a false identity on the internet.

Therefore it is best to be cautious, especially when sharing content. It is hugely tempting for children to share personal information about themselves or other members of their family. A video, a photo, a message, etc. Any content can be “captured” on the internet and reappear at any time.

The best way to protect your children is to talk to them

The best advice we can give you to protect your children is to talk to them. Ask them what they do on the internet and explain about the risks they are running, with the help of concrete examples. You will easily find examples by searching on any browser. In other words, talk to them openly.

Your kids don’t like to talk about what they get up to? Act stupid. Tell them that you do not understand new technologies and ask them to explain things to you. Generally that works well!

Be especially cautious on social networks

Children tend to take the protection of their data lightly. Especially on social networks. Applications are available for parents to control their kids’ activities on such networks.

What rules to lay down?

Another good way to protect your children is to restrict the time they spend on the internet. You can lay down house rules to that end. Arrange time slots for internet surfing or ask your children to only use computers which are in central rooms in the house, like the living room. Then they will be less likely to behave dangerously even though it is obvious that you cannot control everything.

Although it is easy to lay down house rules, it is another matter when your kids are outside the home. A first good way to protect them is to explain to them that the rules which apply at home also apply away from home. And did you know that it is also possible to restrict access to smartphone applications? For instance, on iPhones you can block access to applications like Safari or YouTube or prohibit downloads from the App Store. For other smartphones, several possibilities are available. You can find plenty of advice on the internet.

What now?