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Summer holiday internet safety

The school summer holidays are now in full swing. At the time of writing this, the weather thus far has been far from ideal for the kids to be outside all the time, so it’s inevitable that they are spending more time than parents would like on their computers and tablets. And the more time they spend on their machines, the more time they may spend browsing and exploring on the internet and “chatting with friends” on social media.
So how do you monitor what they are doing and how do you keep them safe? It’s not easy, so start with some basics such as setting boundaries and rules for your children from a young age. Then get involved in finding out more about the kinds of online interests that they have by asking them to show you how to do various things online. It can be fun and is also a way of spending more time with them. They will probably even like the fact that you’ve taken the effort to ‘catch up’ with them.
You can also:
  • Ask them questions about what their friends do on-line, ask them to show you the newest and best websites and apps and ask what their favourites are.
  • Ask your children to tell you about all their email and instant messaging accounts and what the passwords are, thus allowing you to monitor their activities. Don’t feel guilty about it - you’re only giving them a false sense of security by letting them believe that privacy exists on the Internet.
  • Ask them to “friend” you on all their apps. This may not go down well but it could be one of the conditions for you allowing them to access social networking sites.
  • Talk to them about cyberbullying – ask them if they know what it is and if they, or any of their friends have ever experienced it?
  • Talk to friends, family and other parents about how they help their children to progress and keep safe in their digital world.
  • Ensure you know how to use parental controls on computers, mobiles and games consoles, privacy features on social networking sites, and the safety options on Google and other search engines.
  • Install software designed to keep children safe online, for example Qustodio, which helps you monitor web activity, blocks inappropriate content and sets a time schedule or limits how much internet time is allowed each day.
  • Make sure they know not to click on links in emails or instant messages, that they are aware of using strong passwords (which they should share with you) and are not turning off antivirus programmes and firewalls.
Further helpful information can be found on the NSPCC and Cbeebies websites:

Windows 10, Adding a child's account

The Internet is a scary place and keeping your child safe online can often be a daunting prospect. Luckily, Windows 10 offers access controls, time limits and activity reports, including reports on the websites, apps and games your child uses. You can set up individual user accounts for each member of the family with their own unique passwords and then tailor the controls and restrictions to the age of your child. It’s relatively easy to set up a user account and then protect and monitor their activity in just a few minutes.

To get started, you need to create Microsoft accounts for your kids, which you then can add to your family at Once you've added them to your family, you'll be able to choose the additional limits and permissions you want your kids to have. When your kids sign in with their own accounts, they can personalise their desktop and explore apps and games and in addition, their family settings will be applied to any Windows 10 device they sign into.

To set up a child’s account in Windows 10, open Settings, then Accounts, then click Family and Other Users in the left side panel. From here, you can either add a new family member, which gives you the option to set parental controls on your children’s accounts, or simply add a new user. If you choose 'Add a family member', each person you add will need to have their own Microsoft account. (You can create Microsoft accounts from here by clicking the 'The person who I want to add doesn’t have an email address' link).

For extra security, you will need to enter a telephone number. This way if you’re ever unable to access the account, i.e. if it is hacked or you forget the password, you can have a code sent to your phone that will let you reset it.

On the next screen, there are options to have Microsoft recommend apps and other such advertising techniques. I would suggest unchecking these boxes. It’s entirely up to you, but considering this is a child’s account, I don’t believe that either of these options are relevant.

Once you’ve set up your additional accounts, the next time you reboot or log off your PC the new users will appear to the bottom-left of the login screen.

With your child’s account added, you can set up and configure their account settings using the Microsoft Family Safety website. We will cover this and
How to Use the Parental Controls in Windows 10 in our next article.

Laptop Buing Guide

Going off university or college without a decent laptop is akin to refusing to take pads and pens. However, don't just buy whatever is on sale; you need the right laptop for your specific needs. As there's a wide variety of sizes, features and prices, choosing the right laptop can be a challenge.
Let’s start this week by looking at the internal components of a laptop.
Processor – CPU
As the "brains" of your computer, the processor does influence performance, although the choice will depend on what you need to do. If you're looking for a standard laptop with the best combination of price and performance, buy a Core i3. Intel Core i5 or i7 CPUs will be better for multitasking, multimedia tasks, high-end gaming, but are more expensive. Try to steer clear of computers with Celeron, AMD E1 or C1 processors as these are mainly found in cheap systems. Cheap sounds fabulous if you have a small budget but be warned that the majority of these PCs have VERY limited specifications.
Storage – Hard Drive
This is the part of the laptop on which all your data is stored. Most people struggle to fill a 250GB Hard Drive with photos, programmes and music since the average size of a photo or MP3 is about 4MB. In other words this means you can store about 62,500 photos or MP3’s on a small 250GB Hard Drive. If you play around with video files however, 250GB will be hugely insufficient and you should look to 1,000 GB drives which can store about 24 hours of HD video.
Memory – RAM
RAM is fast, temporary storage that Windows uses to load both itself and whatever it is you are doing at the time. So if you are surfing the internet, you are using some RAM for Windows, a little more for the web browser, a little more for your anti-virus program, etc. 4GB is the bare minimum amount of RAM you should have in a laptop, 8GB is ideal.
Make sure you get a laptop with at least 802.11N Wi-Fi standard, rather than the older 802.11g.
You’ll undoubtedly be spending a lot of time in locations where plugging in a laptop is difficult, therefore you’ll need at least 6 hours of battery life, with 8+ hours being ideal. But be realistic, sitting in the library watching cat videos on You Tube with the brightness turned up to 11 or playing a video game will eat battery life in no time.
Get the right OS & Software
Check with the university about software requirements as they may need you to have a specific type of software or operating system. Windows 10 is the most popular and versatile operating system. Also check with the college or university before you buy Microsoft Office as you may be able to get it SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper through them.

YouTube Parental Controls

Our kids are growing up as part of the internet generation and, if they are anything like mine, love watching videos online. As much as we would love to let them loose on YouTube to watch their cat videos, there is a huge amount of rubbish that kids shouldn't have access to, despite it being vetted for extremely explicit offensive content.

The good news is that YouTube has a "Safety mode" setting—its version of parental controls. It doesn’t guarantee to prevent all content of an explicit nature from reaching your children's eyes, although it is better than having nothing at all.

To enable YouTube Safety Mode in Your Web Browser
    IMPORTANT!! To prevent your child from turning safety mode off, you must log out of your Google / YouTube account by clicking your username link in the top right-hand corner of the browser window to lock the setting for the browser you are using. If you have multiple browsers, you need to open each browser and repeat this process to make sure Safety Mode is turned on in each one.

    Enable YouTube Safety Mode on Your Mobile Device
    Safety Mode may also be available on your mobile device's
    YouTube app. Check the settings area of the mobile app to see if it is an option. The process for locking the feature should be similar to the process above.

    NOTE AGAIN: YouTube warns parents that the Safety Mode feature is not 100% reliable and some offensive content could get through its filters.

    YouTube has released a free mobile app called "YouTube Kids" designed to provide a safer viewing experience for young children. Its built-in features make it harder for children to view the type of videos parents don't want them watching. It also blocks many search terms that young people might type in that parents find inappropriate.
    Other features of the app include a parental "timer" which allows parents to limit how long their children can use YouTube Kids before the app automatically turns off as well as an option that allows parents to turn off search.

    How To Keep A Good Digital Reputation

    As children get older it is inevitable that they will start using social networking sites. Within these sites they will be encouraged to share all aspects of their lives – thoughts, opinions, feelings, pictures etc. – thus creating digital traces of themselves across the internet. However, what they probably fail to realise is that the internet keeps a record of everything we do online. In other words, it creates an “online reputation”.
    It is vital for children to understand how to manage their online reputation because once information is uploaded to the internet, it can be very easily and very quickly shared around. This in turn could affect their friendships, leave them open to cyber-bullying and even affect their job prospects (many employers and university admissions teams check social media profiles when researching candidates). Yet a digital footprint is incredibly difficult to remove.
    You can help your child keep a positive presence online by ensuring they understand the long-lasting effects of their internet activities and that their online reputation is created not only by what they post about themselves but also by what others post about them.

    • Emphasise the fact that it’s almost impossible to keep things private online. Even friends or family members could pass on messages you’ve asked them not to.

    • Children should never post anything online they don’t want thousands of people, including their family, to see.

    • A computer screen may give the illusion of distance between them and the other people they are communicating with, however being online is the same as living in the real world.

    • Always ask permission before tagging a friend online and never post inappropriate pictures. Watch out for photos tagged by their friends and remove any that are offensive.

    • Stop & think before posting a comment online. They could end up hurting someone or being hurt themselves. It is easier for comments to be misunderstood when typed rather than spoken.

    • Ask your child to tell you about all their email and instant messaging accounts and what the passwords are, thus allowing you to monitor their activities. Don’t feel guilty about it - you’re only giving them a false sense of security by letting them believe that privacy exists on the Internet.

    • Ask them to “friend” you on all their apps. This may not go down well but it could be one of the conditions for you allowing them to access social networking sites.

    • When your child stops using a social networking site, deactivate or delete their account.

    Keeping Your Family Safe On-Line

    Keeping Your Family Safe On-Line


    The internet is a fantastic resource with its millions of websites, apps, games and online communities, and just like thousands of other parents, I want my child to learn how to use it safely and responsibly. Unfortunately, it’s nigh on impossible to watch what our children are doing every minute they’re online. The increase in use of mobile devices in particular makes it even harder to keep tabs on what they’re watching or playing when they are out of sight. So, how can we help our children to stay safe on-line?


    • Start discussing online safety at an early age. Explain that just like the real world, there are safe and unsafe things on the internet. Some good questions to make the point are: If you leave the house, would you leave the front door open? Would you tell a complete stranger all your deepest secrets? 
    • Talk about protecting private information and never sharing passwords with anyone, even friends. Advise them that for extra protection they should create different passwords for different sites.  
    • Try to avoid having your child use the computer or device whilst hidden away. It is best to set up a computer in a family room with the screen facing outwards.  
    • Do read website and app ratings before allowing your children to visit or download them. If you wish to see which websites your child has been visiting, look at the browser history.  
    • Let your child know that it is perfectly OK to tell you, a teacher or another adult they trust if they are not happy about something they’ve seen or been asked to do whilst online.  
    • Ask them not to download files (music, games, movies or pictures) or install software or apps without asking. Turning off in-app purchasing capabilities on all devices should help.  
    • Ensure parental control software is installed on your devices. This will restrict the sites your child can access and prevent them from sharing sensitive information, such as name, age, address, phone number etc. Should your child accidentally access an unsuitable website, delete it from the 'history' folder and add the address to the Parental Control Filter List.  
    • It is important to install internet security software on all devices and make sure it is regularly updated.

    For further helpful advice, we recommend the following websites: