Do you have a child above the age of 5 or so? If you do, then I am going to assume that they either beg to use your laptop and iPad or maybe even have one of their own.
If that is the case, then you are probably worried about your kids accidentally coming across something that is way too “adult” for them online, or even more seriously, possibly running into an internet predator. In this blog we are going to go over some simple ways that you can help protect your kids online, because let’s face it, you can’t watch them every single second – especially if you have more than one child.
First off, one of the easiest things that you can do for your kids to keep them safe is to turn on Google’s SafeSearch. SafeSearch is a Google search feature that surprisingly, many parents don’t know about. Google created the filter for parents to exclude adult websites and content from Google Search results. This feature helps to remove potentially harmful material appearing when searching the web. Google does state however, that no filter is 100% accurate, and they provide an online form to submit any websites that may get past their filter. This simple tool can prevent kids from trying to do an image search for “Lego” and end up getting the many results for “Legs”, some of which can be on the racy side. Here’s how to turn on the Google SafeSearch, it only takes a second!
1. Visit the Google Search Settings page at http://www.google.com/preferences.
2. In the “SafeSearch filters” section, check the “Filter explicit results” box.
3. Click the Save button at the bottom of the page.
Unfortunately, sometimes kids run into trouble online that have nothing to do with accidentally running across adult-themed websites. Next up are some tips to help keep your kids from running into any “bad apples” online that spoil the internet fun for everyone.
- Keep computers in a central place. It makes it easier to keep an eye on kid’s online activities. In addition to being able to make sure that your kids aren’t going onto any adult websites, it can help foster bonding as well, because if your computer is in a centrally located position such as the kitchen it’s easy to check in on your kids and see what they are up to, and possibly join them in their fun.
- Monitor your children’s online activities. If you have young children, we recommend browsing the internet with them. For older children you could talk about what kinds of websites they can visit and what isn’t appropriate for them to view. You can also check the browser history to find out where your kids have been. If you are worried that your kids might not obey your wishes and go onto adult websites on purpose you can always install a computer monitoring program such as “Net Nanny”.
- Teach Internet safety. Children need to know how to use the Internet safely and responsibly when they’re on their own. If you start when they are very young, and enforce safety rules every single time they use the computer it will become just a part of their daily life and not a “punishment”.
- Protect your passwords. Teach children never to give out their passwords and to make a habit of unclicking “remember me” settings on public computers. Also, even though it might make life a little more difficult, try and use different passwords for different websites instead of re-using passwords.
- Beware of online communication to strangers. Teach your children not to arrange face to face meetings with people they meet online, and not to share personal information with anyone online. Also, take the following as a good rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t say it to someone in person, don’t text it, email it, message it, or post it as a comment on someone’s webpage. Please also tell pre-teens and teens that even if someone says that they are another kid just like them, it doesn’t make it true.
I hope this article has given you some ideas about how to keep your kids safe when they are online. And remember – the part about not revealing personal information online applies to everyone, not just kids!
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