Summer Holiday On Line Security
The school summer holidays have started and although the weather (at the time of writing this) continues to be very fine indeed and families will be making the most of it by enjoying time outside, children will still have a lot of free time to spend online, catching up with friends and playing games.
So how do you monitor what they are doing and how do you keep them safe? You can begin by getting involved in finding out more about the kinds of online interests that they have and 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 appreciate that you’ve taken the effort to ‘catch up’ with them.
You can also:
• Ask your children to tell you about all their email and instant messaging accounts and what the passwords are so that you can 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 being allowed to access social networking sites.
• Ensure you know how to use parental controls and privacy features on social networking sites, and the safety options on Google and other search engines.
• Install software designed to keep children safe online, 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.
• Some children may want to share photos and videos on-line of what they are getting up to in their summer holidays. Make sure they are aware of the types of photos that are appropriate to share, and who they are okay to share with.
• Discuss how to behave in a positive way when online not just at home, but when invited over to a friend’s house as some parents may not be as vigilant as you when it comes to letting their children access the internet.
• Children will want to keep in touch with their friends through social networking sites and games, so take the time to check any age requirements required by these sites (most require users to be 13 or over). It is also a good time to encourage them to use the privacy tools on the services they use, so that the content they post is only available to people they know and trust in real life.