The internet can be an intimidating place; there’s a seemingly endless amount of information on the net, some of which isn’t so pretty. The ugly side is what motivates some parents to attempt to prevent their children from using the internet at all (a nearly impossible effort in this era of technology). A better solution is to keep your child properly informed about the net and take some steps to prevent your child from gaining access to sites that aren’t appropriate for his/her age group.
Here are a few tips on what you should do when your child starts using the internet:
Enable Parental Controls
The first thing you should do before your child even comes close to browsing the web is to enable parental controls on your web browser. I would recommend using Mozilla Firefox as your web browser if it isn’t already; it offers a variety of add-ons that can make your internet session more secure. Once you have Mozilla Firefox installed, you can download an add-on called FoxFilter.
FoxFilter is an easy-to-use parental control add-on that will allow you to filter the internet. You can make lists of keywords that you want blocked, as well as specific websites. Besides creating a “blocked” list, you can also create a list of pages and keywords that you know are safe for your child’s viewing. No need to worry about your child unblocking any content either; your settings on FoxFilter can be password protected.
If you already have your web browser covered and you’re worried about your child accessing inappropriate content on your smartphone, it might be a good idea to download an app such as Kids Place.
Keep Your Computer Secure
Children aren’t always tech savvy and may not be able to recognize that it’s not a good idea to click on those flashy banners that pop up on certain websites or to click on those “download” links; because of this, it’s best to keep your computer secure. When your computer is properly secured, it’s unlikely that it’ll acquire malware or viruses, which can end up costing you a lot of money and hassles over time. Besides virus prevention, your personal information will be protected, creating an overall safer internet experience for everyone.
Security doesn’t have to cost a lot either, so it’s a win-win situation. You’ll want to start off by installing an anti-virus program. Panda Free Antivirus is a good choice because it’s extremely easy to use, has a modern interface, and typically runs in the background without disturbing you with constant notifications. It’s also available for your smartphone and does all of the things that you would expect an anti-virus program to do, despite it being free.
Now that you have an anti-virus program, you’ll want to add an additional layer of security. Anti-virus programs can’t do everything after all. For added protection, I would recommend that you install a VPN. A VPN, also known as Virtual Private Network, will keep your web browsing sessions anonymous.
It does this by acting as the messenger between you and the internet. When you’re connected to the VPN, your requests will be sent to the internet as if they were coming from the location of the VPN. This will allow you to appear as if your physical location is in a different city or country than your actual location, which will not only unblock websites for you that are restricted in your country (for example, Netflix isn’t available everywhere), but also keep your location safe from hackers and websites that track your info.
Besides all of the above mentioned features, a VPN will encrypt your internet traffic, which again, will prevent hackers from getting into your computer and viewing your internet session; this’ll keep both you and your child safe while using the internet. There are many VPNs to choose from, but I would recommend ExpressVPN because of its great reviews, round-the-clock customer service, and its 30-day, money-back guarantee.
Be their Teacher
It’s best if you take the time to teach your child how to use the internet, as well as inform them about the dangers of using the net improperly. Without you providing this information, they have no one else to learn from except themselves. When it comes to internet safety, it’s much safer for them to not learn from experience.
Unfortunately, there are predators lurking around on the net, and it’s easy for your child to fall victim to them, especially in the event that they have not been thoroughly informed about internet safety. If there’s any chance of your child accessing social media websites or chat rooms, make sure you let them know that they should never give out their personal information; this includes full names, location, addresses (including email), phone numbers, passwords, what school they attend, or anything that can be directly linked to their identity or the town they reside in.
It would also be best if you let your child know that, just like in everyday life, you should not automatically trust a stranger. Encourage them to discuss with you what they are doing on the internet in the times that you cannot be present to monitor them.
If you aren’t monitoring your child when they are using the internet, keep an eye on the websites they are looking at. You can figure out which ones they visited by checking your web browser’s history on a regular basis. This will give you an idea as to whether or not they have gotten into something they shouldn’t have (in which case you can then add the website to your “blocked” list on FoxFilter).
Most of all, you need to keep an open line of communication between you and your child. Don’t overreact with anger if they happen to make a mistake online, as it’s likely to make your child avoid notifying you of any mishaps in the future. Teach them how to stay safe and utilize some (or all) of the programs mentioned in order to ensure security; sometimes even the most tech savvy fall into the traps of internet trolls and scammers.