Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Parental Controls: Protect Your Children from Cyber Threats

I remember seeing two kids sitting next to me, playing ‘Clash Of Clans’ on their phones while I was waiting to catch a flight. I thought of the time when I was the same age as them. Back then, going to play outside with my friends was my daily dose of fun, but these kids surprised me. I realized how Internet has grasped us all.

Nowadays, Internet is everywhere - from phones to plasma TVs; we can’t seem to get enough of it; And connecting to the internet is as easy as just hooking up a router. Because of such ease, Kids these days have social media accounts and online gaming profiles on the tip of their fingers.

But do they know the consequences that come along with getting involved in the Internet? Are parents totally aware of their kids are doing online? These questions have raised serious questions about internet security and safety, especially since cyber crime is at large.

If you are a concerned parent with a kid spending hours over the internet, you have come to the right place. There are a few things that you can do to make sure your child is safe in the virtual world.

Some Internet Safety Tips Your Kid Should Know

The first step that parents should take is to inform kids about the dangers of using it. Explain the pros and cons of online accounts and how some people can actually harm someone through the web. Here are a few tips to ensure your kid is aware about what goes on over the Internet.

  • Let your kid understand how important it is to not share any personal information like contact details, passwords and address. When people gain access to these kinds of information they can send abusive content or harass online users for money. E-safety is an issue your child should be proactively aware of.

  • Teach your children about the importance of privacy settings and how they can be changed. Privacy is a big deal. Your kid can randomly post anything online and not think of consequences. Your child should know that what is once posted on the internet will be seen by a number of people.

  • Your kid may end up talking to strangers or try to befriend them. These strangers may end up wanting to meet and greet. It’s best not to meet, so you should explain to your child about meeting unknown people.

  • In the virtual work, many people hide their identities. Fake profiles are very prevalent. Let your kid know that not everyone put up their true information online.

  • Over the internet there are many kinds of people with different opinions. Your child should respect everyone’s opinions even if they aren’t the same as his or her opinions.

How To Avoid Disturbing Content Online

Often people come across abusive, sexually explicit, violent and uncomfortable things across the Internet, and your kid might come across these things as well. First and foremost, if your kid sees anything of this sort he or she must consult you. There are several ways you can control their internet obsessions and prevent them from seeing unapproved content. Certain browsers come with parental controls and kid-friendly online content which provide cyber safety. By using these programs you can prevent your child from seeing something they should not see.

  1. Kiddle:  This is a kids-safe browser from Google, which looks colorful and also allows parental control. Your child can search anything, but you can block access to websites you find inappropriate.
  2. Maxthon: This browser is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. Parents can fix a list of websites that are age-appropriate. They can also block links and ads. The list can be protected with a password.
  3. Kidrex: Kids are fascinated with dinosaurs usually, so the mascot of this browser is a hand-drawn dinosaur. Kidrex user interface is different as it contains childish coloring and writing styles. Children will love this browser.
  4. Safe Search Kids: This is not just a browser, it also contains educational material for kids and content on cyberbullying. This browser uses Google’s Safe Search Engine.

Various browsers have various ways of filtering content for kids. Some browsers allow internet browsing only during specific times. So in times when you child needs to sleep or do homework, he or she won’t get to browse anything or even change programs. K9 for iOS is a free kids-safe browser for Apple devices that can filter out malicious and suspicious content. Some browsers don’t allow in-app purchases and provide content according to age. In any case, it’s best to supervise your kid when he or she is browsing.  

Extra Measures: How To Set Up Parental Controls

Parental control set up is important if you don’t want your kids to get access to nudity, violence, hate speech and other controversial issues. There are a number of parental control systems that you can apply around your home network.

  1. You can start by configuring your modem router. This is the device through which internet is being supplied by the ISPs. Some form of control in this device can filter content to all devices connected in the home network. Some routers even come with built-in parental control features.
  2. Some operating systems and companies offer parental control softwares specifically for personal computers. You can install these softwares to secure the internet connected to your kid’s computer, for example, Microsoft offers ‘Family Safety’ package. If your child’s PC has Windows 8 or 10 installed, you can open a ‘Child’ user account for them. You can manage this account from Microsoft Family Safety website.
  3. You can also install third-party programs that offer internet security and filtered content. Some can be free, while others are paid. Some examples of paid services include ‘Norton Family’ and ‘Net Nanny’.

Do keep in mind that no program or browser is perfect. They can block out good content occasionally. Sometimes they are unable to block inappropriate content. Pre-teens are smart enough to get their way around these programs. Although you have enough reach to create good parental control in your home network, you can’t setup so much control for other places your child goes to, for example school or a friend’s home. Be prepared to answer your child’s questions and talk to them if they see anything anywhere, that makes them feel discomfort.  

Kids these days are smart and have access to everything online. But with this kind of freedom available, kids often forget about responsibility and get into trouble. Remember the game ‘Blue Whale’, that everyone was talking about? Thousands of users, including kids, downloaded that game and followed its instructions, the final instruction being commiting suicide. Yes, some kids and teens fell into the trap of cyberbullying and indeed killed themselves. To ensure that these kind of things doesn’t happen, parents and children, both need to be aware about the virtues and vices of the web. Internet safety for kids should be discussed at home and school, to prevent any mishappenings.  Strict measures need to be taken for kids to remain safe in real life and virtual life.   

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