Keeping your kids safe online:
With children having access to an abundance of technology such as smartphones, laptops, tablets and games consoles there is always a way for them to stay connected to the internet. This blog should give you some helpful tips and guidance to keeping your kids safe online.
All smartphones have internet access, it allows children to browse the web and use social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
There are several options to help limit internet capability on smartphones, so it is worth considering what would be helpful for your family. You should take into account that filtering is only part of the solution and it is important to talk with your child about how they use the internet. Check what parental controls are available for the specific smartphone; some devices may have options for switching off the internet browser.
When your child is out of the house they will probably use their 3G or 4G signal to access the internet on their smartphone. All mobile contracts come with a data allowance so it is important to check what the monthly usage is, this will ensure they don’t go over their allowance and end up with a big bill at the end of the month. All mobile network providers provide parental controls, some have this as the default setting whereas others require you to request it be turned on. Tesco Mobile and O2 have a parental control option to ensure that only websites they have classified as suitable for children under 12 can be accessed. It is advisable you contact your mobile network provider to find out about filtering options.
Typically a child will connect their smartphone to your home wireless internet when available. This does not impact on any monthly data allowance on the mobile phone contract but it will count towards your home broadband packages allowance. We recommend you speak to your home internet service provider to discuss how to filter certain content and websites for all devices accessing your home internet.
Games consoles come in 2 different formats. There are the handheld ones such as Nintendo 3Ds’ and Sony PS Vita’s which can be taken anywhere and there are the household ones such as Microsoft Xbox One’s or Sony Playstation 4’s which predominantly stay in one location in a house.
Gaming devices can connect to your home internet or wifi hotspots to support a range of functions, from playing games online with people, watching films and browsing the internet. It is helpful to find out all of the online functions that the device has and consider any parental controls that might be relevant. When purchasing games for your child it is useful to look at the PEGI age ratings to help you decide which games are appropriate for your child’s age.
Most games allow users to talk to each other when being played online. Gamers can often use voice chat (via in-built microphones or headsets, depending on the console) which is similar to talking on the phone. It is always a good idea to find out what chat functions are available, so that you understand how your child could be using their console. Warn your child never to give out any personal information, pictures of themselves, or agree to meet someone in person, either when using online chat or sharing information in their user profile. If your child does play against people they don’t know, make sure they know how to block and report other players and use the mute function which can disable chat in many games.
Laptops and Tablets:
Many devices, such as tablets (eg. iPad) and internet-enabled media players (eg. iPod Touch), connect to the internet to enable a wide range of functions. Parental controls can be a real help and may be particularly important for younger children. For older teens it can also be a help, but it may be more appropriate to talk about dealing with peer pressure to share and watch content that is inappropriate rather than just simply blocking access to YouTube, for example.
Most devices don’t let you text or call in the same way phones do however they do allow your child to use instant messaging apps (eg. Whatsapp or Kik), video calling (eg. Skype) and social networking (eg. Facebook or Twitter).
It is essential that you talk with your child about the content they publish online. It is very easy for people to gather information such as addresses, personal information and phone numbers from content posted on social networking sites so make sure your child bears this in mind before posting anything.
Often you will find that a lot of personal information such as photos and videos are stored on devices. Older children (16+) may also store things such as bank details, usernames and passwords. We recommend protecting your device by setting a password, or PIN, which has to be entered before use each time.
We hope you have found some useful advice in here on keeping your child safe when using the internet. For more information follow this link: http://www.saferinternetday.org/web/guest/sid-2014