A guide to protecting your kids online

I don’t allow all and sundry to get post on here, especially for free, but when Broadband Genie offered me a post on keeping kids safe online, I thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

In this ever-connected world we live in, many of us worry about how to keep our kids protected online, especially since the advancements in broadband technology ensure faster connections, such as those you can get with BT Infinity.

Why do I need to protect my kids?
Of course the most obvious answer to this is predatory sex offenders, who often pretend to be children themselves in order to ensnare kids into thinking they’re friends. But this isn’t the only danger that the net presents.

Cyber-bulling has become something of a big problem. Kids insult and post nasty pictures, send abusive texts and more. Recently in the news there have been several stories about how children have harmed themselves because of this.
Pornographic material is, unfortunately, all over the web, including sites such as Facebook and YouTube; in fact the latter contains a lot of material that could be considered damaging to young minds.
Identity theft – this can happen to children too
Scams – these are especially prolific on social media and email and can have the effect of signing kid’s phones up to premium-rate mobile services, or infecting a computer with a virus/malware, some of which can steal personal data and even take web shots remotely using your computer’s webcam.

What can I do about it?
Firstly, ensure that your computer is adequately protected from malware, which literally means malicious software. There are a number of anti-virus packages out there which contain URL blockers for dodgy sites, as well as other security features such as firewalls that prevent hackers.

Don’t let your kids carry out illegal downloads through peer-to-peer websites, these are often infected and the content on some of the sites themselves are often pornographic, that’s even before they find they’ve downloaded something else inappropriate.

  • Supervise them, especially younger kids and ensure that they know which sites that they aren’t allowed to use. Parental control software can be useful for this, but it doesn’t replace supervision; ensure that the computer is in a common area in the house so that you can keep an eye on them.

  • Educate your children on the dangers that they can come across online; a great resource for this is OnGuard Online, here you can find out about every aspect of how you can further protect your kids.

  • Talk to them, in order to educate you have to talk, warn them of the dangers, be open about bullying and encourage them to be open about what might be bothering them. If they don’t feel they can talk to you, ask younger members of the family or a trusted teacher to help.

The internet is great but a lot of the time it does contain dangers. Warn your children about trolling and the effect it can have on apparent strangers, teach them to respect others as they would in a face-to-face situation.

Many kids think that because they are simply typing into a web page, that they can’t really be hurting someone. Teach your children that behind every interaction, there’s a real person, with real feeling and sometimes, bad intentions and always try to keep the lines of communication open between you and them.