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Child safety on the Internet

Although the Internet is an invaluable resource which we all rely on, it is not without its dangers – especially for children.

Younger internet users may not have the knowledge or experience to identify online threats so it is a parent’s responsibility to protect them. This involves adopting a vigilant attitude towards child safety on the Internet and ensuring computer, browser and website settings are all tailored to offer maximum security.

Device settings

Children can access the Internet using many different devices so it’s important that your first step towards improving child safety online looks specifically at devices.

  • Set restrictions on portable devices to stop children accessing app stores or other applications which can cost money or expose them to unsuitable content.
  • Set pass-codes on devices that allow you to implement parental controls.
  • Create different user accounts on your devices with tailored settings to ensure safe usage for all members of the family.

Browser settings

As well as setting parental controls on devices, you also need to consider how you will increase security when your children actually access the Internet. This means updating the settings to ensure responsible internet usage.

  • Adjust the settings on your web browser to block certain websites – Google Chrome has a feature that allows you to set up different accounts for this.
  • Review web browser histories to check what online activity your children are engaging in.
  • Install security software that guarantees safe internet usage by highlighting threats.
  • You may be able to get a unit that can be fixed to your router to block certain content – speak to broadband providers about this.

Website filters

While your chosen web browser can expose you to certain threats, the main problem parents face when trying to guarantee child safety online is posed by individual websites. Filtering sites is an easy way to protect children and ensure they aren’t able to access any unsuitable content.

  • Use security software that screens websites to check whether they pose a threat and teach your children how to spot the difference between safe and unsafe websites.
  • Set limits on downloads – regardless of the allowances given by broadband providers.
  • Set parental controls on your broadband to blacklist certain sites.
  • Google and YouTube for example, allow you to set “Safe Search” filters, to exclude any explicit content in search results.
  • For teenagers, it is a good idea to show them how to set up privacy and security settings on social media networks. These help control who sees any shared personal details and what they post.

General advice

Ensuring internet safety for kids also requires you to issue some general advice. Common tips include:

  • Do not speak to strangers online, and only connect with people you know and trust on social media.
  • Do not give out personal information over the Internet.
  • Do not send photographs to online users.
  • Do not agree to meet anyone you have spoken to on the Internet without supervision.
  • Do not share passwords of email accounts or social media accounts with friends.
  • Do not leave online accounts logged in.
  • Report any cyber bullying to an adult immediately.