Internet Safety for Kids - What you need to know and how to stay safe!
When you finally slump on to the couch after a long day, and the little ones come in with a barrage of questions on how stuff works, the easiest escape route is – to hand them the iPad (read ‘tablet/smartphone) and let them find out for themselves. But, before you zone out and let them wander off to do their harmless research, make sure you set up a strong line of defence to keep them safe from the hidden snares on the internet.
Setting up parental controls on your internet devices (mobiles, tablets, desktops, laptops, game consoles and even home Wi-Fi) is one of the most critical ways to block/filter harmful and age-inappropriate content, regulate in-app purchases and to control how long your child spends online.
On most phones and tablets, parental controls (also known as Restrictions) can be enabled in the device’s ‘Settings’ and locked with a password. The UK Safer Internet Centre and NSPCC have extensive information on how to set up parental controls offered by your home internet provider and to filter the content reaching your devices.
The Parents' Guide for Safer Internet from Vpnmentor is another useful resource with some practical step-by-step guidance on monitoring screen-time and implementing online safety rules with your children. You can find the link to their post here.
However, irrespective of all the restrictions and filters you set up if you hand the devices to your kids when you go outside the realm of your home Wi-Fi, for instance to restaurants or coffee shops, remember they can connect to unsecured public Wi-Fi. In such cases, it’s always worthwhile to look for the Friendly Wi-Fi symbol, which indicates that the Wi-Fi has filters in place to block inappropriate content and images.
Remember, setting parental controls is only one of the measures to keep your child safe on the internet. Make sure you have an open conversation with your child about internet safety and tailor your approach to them depending on their age and individual temperament, just as you would when preparing them to go out into the real world.