Internet Safety – Keep your child safe online

Internet safety recommendations for younger people image

Young people today are part of a generation that has never known life without mobile phones or the internet. They have become an integral part of their day-to-day lives, particularly with the rapid growth of social media.

Unfortunately this has also made them a prime target for online predators, unscrupulous scammers and cyber bullies. This was demonstrated recently in the tragic case of 17-year-old Windsor schoolboy Joseph Edwards. Joseph, an A-level student with autism was found hanged after opening a scam email that appeared to be from police, claiming he had downloaded indecent images and demanding £100. His mother Jacqueline has since launched her own web safety campaign to warn children of the dangers of internet scams.

With many youngsters regularly accessing the internet through smartphones and tablets, it can be a difficult task for parents to monitor what their child is doing online. Fortunately help is at hand. There is a wealth of information available on the net to help parents keep their child safe online. Internet search giant Google has come up with a few top tips to do just that, as well as an informative video canvassing the opinions of employees who are parents themselves. The tips are as follows:

1. Keep computers in a central place. This will make it easier to keep an eye on your children’s activities.
2. Know where your children go online. If you have young children, you might use the Internet with them. For older children, you could talk about what kinds of site they like to visit and what isn’t appropriate for your family. You can also check where your kids have been by looking at the history in your browser menu. Another option is to use filtering tools like Google SafeSearch.
3. Teach Internet safety. It’s impossible to monitor your child’s online activity all the time. As they get older, they need to know how to use the Internet safely and responsibly when they’re on their own.
Use privacy settings and sharing controls. Many sites that feature user-generated content, including YouTube, Blogger and social networking sites, have sharing controls that put users in charge of who sees personal blogs, photos, videos and profiles. Using sharing controls is particularly important when you or your children share personal information such as names, addresses or phone numbers on public sites. Teach your children to respect the privacy of friends and family by not identifying people by name in public profiles and pictures.
Protect passwords. Remind your children not to give out their passwords. Make sure that they make a habit of unclicking “remember me” settings on public computers, such as those at school or in the library.
Beware of strangers. Teach your children not to arrange in-person meetings with people that they “meet” online and not to share personal information with online strangers, because people may not be who they claim to be.
4. Help to prevent viruses. Use anti-virus software and update it regularly. Make sure that your children avoid downloading from file-sharing websites and don’t accept files or open email attachments from unknown people.
5. Teach your children to communicate responsibly. Take the following as a good rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t text it, email it, instant message it or post it as a comment on someone’s page.
6. View all content critically. Just because you see it online, there’s no guarantee that it’s true. Children should learn how to distinguish reliable sources from unreliable ones and how to verify information that they find online. Make sure that kids understand that cutting and pasting content directly from a website may be plagiarism.

These tips are by no means a fool-proof method of ensuring children surf the net safely, but they may at least provide concerned parents with a little more peace of mind.