Keeping Your Kids Safe on the Web


When I was a child we made our plans ours before and turned up. If we needed to call, one phone call is all we had between our friends. Today the world is much more connected. It's actually connected all of the time.

Do your children have mobile phones, spend time on the net chatting to friends? Are you aware of where they surf and who they talk to?

The broadband internet filter has been a very controversial. However as a parent you wonder what else can you do to keep your kids safe. The geeks complain that it will stop them surfing anywhere they want, most however don't have kids and I am sure that if they did and their kids fall fowl of some predator, the filter may take bigger priority for them.

As a parent with young kids, I am not sure what the right answer is. Maybe its limited mobile phone and internet access.

The following provides some advice on what you should be looking out for.

Blogs & Twitter
A blog is an online journal that people use to present their ideas. They attract comments and subscriptions. The web is full of them.

Twitter is a communication tool that can also be called a micro blog. You follow peoples tweets and they follow yours. Each time you tweet (send a 140 character message) it goes out to everyone who follows you.

Youtube is the most popular of video sites. Anyone can upload videos of anything, personal or commercial. You cna leave comments about someones videos and even Like/Recommend the video.

Social Media sites like Facebook, allow you to create an online profile and them connect with friends who have also created a profile.. In addition to your profile, you also upload pics, videos and message about what you are up to. Facebook has over 500 million profiles at the moment and is the most popular of the social media sites.

So what are the risk and what can you do?

  • Beware of strangers - if you have a social media profile be it Twitter or Facebook you will be approached by strangers to follow them or become friends with them. If you don't know who they are or they look suspicious they most likely are.
  • Inappropriate Content - you might be contacted by someone with content that you don't like or that you don't understand. If so unfollow or unfriend someone who does this.
  • Photo sharing - when you place a photo of yourself or a family member (a child for instance) understand that you are sharing it with the world wide web, anyone can access it, forever purpose they see fit.
  • Identity Theft - organised crime have found social media and social sites a bonanza for stealing identities and stealing your money. Services such as Facebook are getting better at protecting your privacy but they are a long way from really protecting you. Whatever you provide online, understand that you can easily lose control of it.
  • Beware what you write - anything that you write on the web could come back to haunt you, particularly by future employers. It could stay on the web forever.

What can you do:

  • Ensure you are using an antivirus program to protect the files you access and what can get attached to your PC from the sites you visit and files you access. Ensure your anti-virus is upto date.
  • Set your Facebook provides to the maximum privacy available.
  • If you are unsure about tools such as Twitter then protect your tweets and who can follow you by making them private.
  • Change your passwords every few months and use a combination of letters, numbers and characters.
  • Try and use nicknames as opposed to your real name when you are creating profiles. Never provide details about your financial records.
  • Enable no picture forwarding on social networks.
  • Use kid friendly browsers such as Kidoz and Netnanny.
  • Monitor the sites your children visit and the time they spend on the web.

What about app? If you child has a new smart phone and has already downloaded some free apps:

  • check that they are appropriate for their age;
  • remove anything that you don't think is appropriate and explain why;
  • if the apps are paid app, find out how they are being paid for and take control of this account or atleast monitor it.



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