Protecting your children when they use the Internet

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The Internet is a wonderful resource, a source of education and entertainment for everyone.
However, there is also a lot of content which may not be suitable for a young mind and as a parent it is you responsibility to minimise your children’s exposure to this material.

Up until recently there has been very little guidance for parents when it comes to monitoring a child’s activity on the web.

However, with government intervention and internet service providers taking a more proactive role in not only educating parents but also in providing them the tools to secure home connections there is really no excuse now.

The simplest precaution is to keep internet accessible devices out in the open, in rooms where you can monitor what is being viewed. For particularly young children it may be beneficial to make surfing the web a shared activity between parent and child. This way you can monitor their usage and turn what is usually an isolated activity into a more sociable one.

As children get older it is increasingly difficult to control their web access habits, and this is when parental controls setup on the router can go some way to limiting the material that is viewable. Both BT and Virgin provide parental controls and you can find an explanation of how these function by following the links below:

http://bt.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/46768#settingup
http://parentalcontrols-on.org/Virgin-Media

If your child has a mobile device that uses 3G/4G then you will need to contact your provider to ensure parental control are enabled on the account.

If your Internet Service Provider does not provide filtering you can use a free service by OpenDNS. This service facility will protect every device in your home, instantly. OpenDNS settings apply to every device — laptops, smartphones, tablets, DVRs, game consoles, TVs, literally anything that connects to the internet.

OpenDNS: https://www.opendns.com/home-internet-security/

While these services protect against inappropriate content, the other aspect to staying safe online is education on how to behave. This includes the basics such as:

• Not letting anyone know your password.
• Not giving out personal information online such as phone numbers, email addresses, home address or name of your school.
• Taking care when opening files, pictures of texts from someone you don’t know or trust.

Interacting with people on the internet, whether it be by email, chat room, social media, or even using in-game communication can also present risk. Make sure your children understand that:

• Unless you have permission from a parent, don’t arrange to meet up with someone you have been talking to online.
• You can never be 100% sure that people are being truthful on the internet.
• You must treat people on the internet as you would do in person. Being hurtful or rude is not OK.
• If you are in any doubt or something is making you uncomfortable, that you should tell a parent, carer or teacher.

In the past, keeping your child from viewing inappropriate material was simply ensuring they did not watch the TV after 9pm… now things are more complicated. Fortunately, while the internet creates some problems it also provides you with the tools and knowledge to overcome them!


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