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For parents: How to monitor and ensure your kids’ safety on the Internet

  • It cannot be overemphasised; the Internet is an essential resource for kids. There are countless useful activities kids can do on the Internet: acquire knowledge/skills, play educative and interactive games, communicate with the parents, teachers, and friends, etc. Nonetheless, the Internet can also pose hazards to kids, if they aren't adequately guided and monitored. Below are some important Internet safety measures parents can put in place to ensure their kids are safe on the Internet.

    Enlighten the kids about the Internet and its use

    As a parent/guardian, you should not just make the Internet available for your kids. Teach them everything about its proper usage; the do’s and don’ts. Take time even before you introduce them to the technology to guide them about the pros and cons. Give them examples of what happened with kids like them in other places. Also, direct them to read articles and watch videos that will educate them and show them the dangers of the Internet.

    Ensure that the kids’ personal details and other things such as password, user ID, etc. are kept private

    It’s advisable to make sure the kids do not use too much of their personal identity online. If possible, public display of their pictures online should also be regulated. Educate them on how much information they should provide. It's true most the websites, especially learning platforms require personal details mainly to be able to customise learners' usage, but it's import for your kids to know how much information they should give.

    If possible, make it as a regulation to consult you for whichever website or portal they are trying to register. Doing this will significantly reduce the risk they are most likely to be exposed to.

    Set up mature content filtering software on their gadgets

    Sometimes kids would not like their parents to know the websites they visit. In fact, you wouldn't want to intrusive so much into what they do, so if there is another way you can regulate them without necessarily having to talk to them, that will be excellent. There are software or web applications that can automatically block vulnerable contents or easily wipe them out on your kids’ gadgets. Such applications can also allow you to monitor the kids’ activities remotely.

    You can check out Net Nanny (www.netnanny.com). There are hundreds of other web applications out there, all you need is to sure not to install spam on your kids' gadgets. In fact, there is more tendency to be scammed trying to install these kinds of software.

    Make use of browsers’ parental controls on your kids’ gadgets

    Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer and other major Internet browsers allow users to set up security safeguards and content filters for language, nudity, sex, violence, etc. Take advantage of these control features to regulate what your kids watch and read online.

    You can explore these features by going to setting of your browsers.

    Monitor their Internet history (browsing history)

    By default, or sometimes you need to set it up, all Internet browsers store the record of websites or activities a user did. So, regularly checking your kids' browsing history will allow you see every site they visit, the activity they do or any file they download. The feature is available in almost all major browsers and is located in the setting of the browser.

    Regulate their online chatting

    Closely monitor their online interactions with other friends. Educate them about the façade of the Internet and how possibly sometimes some people pretend to be people they aren’t. Thus, inform them never to arrange to meet with an online friend without your consent. Monitoring their chats will also help you to ensure that they do not engage in cyber-bullying or are victims of the same.

    Follow up with your kids’ Internet access at school

    Monitoring your kids’ Internet activities at home is not enough. If they have access to the Internet at school, talk to their teachers and make sure the school authority has adequate regulative measures to ensure kids’ safety online.

    The best way to ensure what your kids do at school is to participate actively in parent-teacher meetings and activities. School administration or the teacher in the class is not enough. Bringing up school kids is a trilateral relationship – the parent, the teacher and the school administration.

    Regulate your kids’ time on the Internet

    Today, time wastage online is a big issue that affects not only kids but also adults. Make sure your kids do not spend too much time on the Internet in such a way that jeopardises their physical interactions. Teach them basic time management skills. It will help them in both their domestic, social and academic activities.

    You can explore web applications that help regulate time usage online or you can take it upon yourself, though difficult to do, to personally monitor how much time they spend on the Internet. Sometimes you need to know even how much time they waste on specific tasks.

    Use your wireless router to monitor your kids’ online activities

    Some wireless routers are designed to enable one to keep a log of sites visited by users via one’s home internet connection. You can check out for such routers and use them to keep an eye on the sites visited by your kids. You can as well set up a list of sites that can’t be accessed from their computers.

    You can ask an Internet specialist to help you set up your wireless router to monitor and supervise your kids’ activities.

    Use other web resources to supervise your child’s Internet usage

    There are thousands of software and web resources you can use to check your kids’ online activities. Some of them are:

    • SafetyWeb
    • CyberGhost
    • SocialShield
    • Buffered
    • StayFocused
    • ExpressVPN
    • NordVPN
    • Facebook Courage Wolf

    Some of these are mainly VPN (Virtual Private Network) applications while others are specific to website blocking or time management online.

    In the end, the most important thing to consider is to spend time with your kids to educate them on what is right to do to make a meaningful living. They more enlighten you make them about life, time management, academic success and productivity, they better they will become in their use and exploration of not only technology gadgets but also anything to do with their life.

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