Our role as parents, guardians, or carers of children is to ensure their safety in all instances – and this is applicable to their time spent on computers as well. Here are some of the best things you can do to keep children safe while they use computers:
How To Keep Your Children Safe On Their Computers:
- Parental Controls: Set up and use parental control software to filter and block inappropriate content, manage screen time, and monitor online activities. Many operating systems and internet security software offer built-in parental control features.
- Create User Accounts: Set up separate user accounts for each child on the computer. This allows you to apply individualised settings and restrictions based on their age and maturity level.
- Educate and Communicate: Teach children about online safety and responsible internet use. Discuss potential risks, such as cyberbullying, phishing, and inappropriate content, and encourage open communication if they encounter any issues.
- Safe Browsing: Install child-friendly web browsers or configure standard browsers with safe search settings to filter out explicit content. This helps reduce the chances of stumbling upon inappropriate material.
- Secure Passwords: Teach children about the importance of strong and unique passwords. Ensure they use passwords for their accounts that are hard to guess and not easily shared with others.
- Updates and Security: Keep the computer’s operating system, antivirus software, and applications up to date. Regular updates patch security vulnerabilities and protect against malware.
- Monitor Usage: Regularly review your child’s online activities to identify any potential risks or problematic behaviour. It’s not about spying but rather safeguarding their well-being.
- Social Media and Online Friends: Educate children about the risks associated with sharing personal information online and the importance of being cautious when connecting with new people on social media or other online platforms.
- Safe Downloads: Teach children to download content only from trusted sources and avoid clicking on suspicious links or pop-up ads.
- Cyber Etiquette: Advise children about digital etiquette and respectful behaviour online. Emphasize the significance of treating others with kindness and empathy.
- Parental Supervision: For younger children, supervise their computer usage directly and ensure they are engaged in appropriate activities.
- Physical Placement: Place the computer in a common area of the house, such as the living room or family room, where you can easily monitor your child’s online activities.
- Encourage Reporting: Let children know they can always approach you with any concerns or uncomfortable experiences they encounter online without fear of punishment.
- Avoid Oversharing: Encourage children not to share personal information, such as their full name, address, or contact details, on public forums or with strangers online.
- Set a Good Example: Be a role model for responsible internet use. Children learn a great deal from observing their parents’ behaviour.
Remember that no system is foolproof, and it’s essential to maintain an ongoing dialogue with your children about online safety. By taking these steps, you can create a safer digital environment for your children and help them navigate the online world responsibly.