Child safety online is becoming a much more complicated issue as the amount and variety of devices that youngsters are being exposed to increases. The contact time a child has with a tablet or online console gaming makes the task of protecting children a difficult one.
How Do Children Use The Internet?
A survey by IT security group ISC2 has produced some shocking findings about young people’s activity on the internet. 1,162 children between the ages of 9 and 11 were interviewed about their routines and previous experiences online. 43% said that they were online every day, with 46% saying that every time they used the internet they were online for between 1 and 2 hours at a time. Worryingly, 18% said that they had met up in person with somebody they had met on the internet – 50% of those meeting them alone. Children use the internet for a variety of reasons; the most popular being playing video games, social networking and watching TV/videos. How can we make sure though that youngsters are enjoying themselves safely without constant supervision?
These are a great tool for children that like to browse the internet, as content filters block websites meaning that sites containing adult or violent themes can be avoided altogether. Depending on the software you get, you can set up multiple profiles to let older children onto appropriate sites, but still restrict them from younger ones. You can also block or unblock specific sites. This is useful as occasionally there will be websites that a child may need to access for homework purposes. Content filters are never completely accurate so will sometimes block harmless sites, and leave harmful ones unblocked.
Parental Control Software
If you’re looking for added protection then parental control software can provide additional options. There is a range of tools available, time limiting being particularly useful. You can control specific site access times, for example, games or social media sites can be restricted after certain times at night, or made available only at weekends. There are also features which allow you to monitor which sites have been visited and for how long. Social media monitoring software is also on the market which links all your child’s social media profiles so you are able to observe their actions and schedule alerts in the event of any undesirable communications.
Possibly more important than installing software is to actually talk about and educate on the dangers that can be found on the internet. Software is extremely useful in blocking adult and distressing content, however this won’t put a stop to the issue of cyberbullying or stop children from passing on personal details. For older children, explain the issues, what they can do to stay safe and make yourself available to them in the event that they encounter any upsetting situations online.
Which Software Should I Download?
A simple search for child safety software brings up countless results, many of which are completely free to download and install. Spend some time looking into the features and which would best suit yours and your child’s schedules and internet activity. Look out for the BSI Kitemark though. This is a scheme developed by the British Standards Institution, the Home Office and Ofcom in order to regulate the standards of child safety software. Software that carries this mark has been tested across a range of quality control categories including reliability, performance and user-friendliness. Take a look at the BSI website for more information.
We tend to think of children being naïve when it comes to giving out their details to strangers online, however this video from the BBC shows how easily people put themselves at risk by not taking basic measures to protect their information.
Tom Ilube, an online security expert, was able to find out some very personal facts about two ladies including date of birth, pictures and a mother’s maiden name (important of course as this is often used as a security question in the absence of a password). He gives some tips on the BBC website on steps you can take to prevent leaking your data to unwanted sources. If you are aware of the ways that your information is at risk, the better equipped you can be when safeguarding your children from threats.