From personal experience, I know that the internet plays at least some role in helping me and my daughter. It helps her to both learn and play, but without me by her side, she could end up visiting an unsafe site by mistake. Having been to Mums Show Live earlier this year, I know how big an issue child safety online is for parents.
As I learned from before and after my appearance on the panel, I realised that you can never be too sure of whether a site or individual webpage is safe to use. If, like me, you feel anxious about leaving your kids to their own devices online, then there are a few things you could do to put your (and their) minds at rest.
Set some rules
Windows 7 built in parental control features
If they’re old enough to understand, only allow them to visit a handful of websites. Write a list of sites they can visit down on a piece of paper or on a Word document and make sure they stick to is. As they get older, you can increase the number of sites on that list accordingly.
Should that seem like too much of a hassle, it’s possible to get a piece of software to help bar them from visiting something explicit or malicious. A family-friendly anti-malware program might be sufficient to help block ‘adult’ content and ensure that they can only see sites which can actually help them learn or play.
Only when they’re old enough…
Something that will probably arise as your kids get older is social media. They may want to set up an account on Facebook, Instagram or some other site, but there are risks involved. Perhaps you should set out some sort of social media etiquette such as not accepting friend requests from strangers who seem a little odd, and have your own account and follow/friend them.
It’s not possible for you to watch over your kids’ internet use all the time, but a combination of child protection on your devices, rules you set out for them and one-to-one tuition may help them stay safe online. Also, only let them visit certain sites when they’re ready to do so – waiting until their teens to use social media sites is advisable.