Child Safety Week 2017
5th – 11th of June is known as Child Safety Week, an event run by the Child Accident Prevention Trust and this year the theme is Safe Children: Sharing is Caring.
Whilst Child Safety Week mainly focuses on how to keep children physically and mentally safe from accidents, in the digital age we live in, we must consider how to keep our children safe online also.
There are countless horror stories of teenagers being tricked online and lead to meet up with a stranger that results in them losing their life. We also find increasing reports of extremist content or extremely explicit content being uploaded onto massively used sites such as Facebook and YouTube; essentially, things our children do not need to experience.
Child Safety Week gives us the opportunity to assess the risks children have when going online. Though in an era where every child has a tablet or a smartphone, it’s not something a parent can simply ban.
So here are the Dove Computers’ Top Tips at Protecting Children Online.
- Parental Filters – Every computer and internet provider and online app has the option to restrict certain content. For instance there are ways to block certain webpages, restrict use of inappropriate apps and even control internet access times.
These methods are not fool proof, and with kids being as tech savvy as they are nowadays, they may get to an age when they learn how to bypass or disable parental controls. Though it definitely does help, especially for the younger ones.
Speak to your Internet Service Provider about setting up internet filters as it’s likely to be a part of your package. If not it’s possible to sign up to an internet based filter program called ‘Proxy’, again this is something you can discuss with your Internet Service Provider to set up.
Another way is with your routers. Many routers come with a parental control configuration and a mere check in your router’s handbook will give instructions on how to set this up. Some routers do not have this pre-installed and for that you’d need what’s called a DNS or Open DNS setting. It’s easy to set up and gives that ‘This website is blocked’ message across your page.
This does not stop that negative filtered content from entering your computer, though it does block it from displaying on the screen. Should you wish to stop it entirely, you must speak to your internet service provider as seen above.
- Education – It sounds silly and too simple to be effective, but teaching children from a young age the importance of protecting their passwords and personal data will help them as they grow up with internet. If they’re consistently told what’s safe and what’s not safe to do online, the message (for most) will stick.
This can be anything as simple as “Don’t tell anyone but a responsible adult your password” to “Don’t click on any website you don’t know”. Young children tend to be more cooperative and listen to the words from the wise.
- Apps – Many apps now offer kid friendly version, for instance BBC iPlayer and an iPlayer Kids edition, YouTube has YouTube kids. These sites are more extensively monitored and filtered by the app provider themselves and though aren’t 100% secure, are much safer.
It’s also possible when setting up these apps to add further filters. For instance you can remove the search bar from YouTube kids or set the age group to a set age group. This further helps with the filtering of inappropriate content.
Adding a password to adult only apps or apps with in-game purchases ensure that your child can’t spend your hard earned money on more lives for Disney Emoji Blitz or a new dinosaur on the Jurassic World game. But it also helps keep them away from your apps you don’t want them to use.
Passwords are key.
- Communication – again, it sounds daft and too simple to be effective, but it works. Our children respond to communication, especially from a young age. We warn them about strangers, we warn them about bullies but do we warn them about what’s online?
Making our children aware of what’s appropriate and inappropriate to do online is a great way of preventing any issues from happening. It’s not a fully conclusive fix, as of course, children experiment and can quite easily click something they shouldn’t. However it is helpful.
It also means that children know who they can turn to should they come across an issue online. Rather than feeling embarrassed and ashamed and letting the situation spiral, they’ll know how to react and who to tell to resolve the issue.
For instance should they open an email that infects the machine with a virus you can teach them to react by turning off the machine and speaking to you about the issue. This then prevents the spread of the virus and keeps you in the loop with your child’s activities.
Keeping the computer in a communal area is also effective as you can visually monitor your child’s use of internet and online games without them feeling watched.
There is no way to keep your child 100% safe online, with the number of virus’ around and the amount of inappropriate content being uploaded daily, it’s likely that at some point, your computer will become infected. But by teaching our children, talking to our children and taking appropriate measures to block certain content from them, we can at least ensure that we make a noticeable difference to their internet safety. The rest is then down to them.
In theme with the Child Safety Week 2017 – Sharing your online concerns with your child is caring about your child’s safety.
The NSPCC and O2 came together to create a great moto and that is the moto of TEAM – definitely a message worth taking with us from this Child Safety Week.
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