With our kids on holiday looking for just about anything to keep themselves occupied, after playing outside and watching TV, we all know what there next go-to activity will be. It’s either gaming on the tablet and or watching videos on YouTube.
And while it certainly is a good way to keep the kids from running amok from time to time, we can’t let our online safety measures waiver and take a break with us this festive season.
So we’ve rounded up a few online safety tips to consider before letting the kids have free reign on the computers, tablets and cellular devices this holiday.
1. Keep a watchful eye over their social media accounts
Befriend your kids
According to research conducted by Kaspersky Labs, 60% of South African children access the internet for communication media purposes (mostly social media). 53% of children in Cape Town are mostly interested in social media. But there are numerous threats associated with social media platforms specifically, including cyberbullying and catfishing – when someone pretends to be someone else on the Internet.
Read more about cyberbullying here: Parent's guide: How to identify and combat cyberbullying
Comparitech has a few suggestions on how you can monitor your kids online, the first being that you too can create a social media profile, and befriend them. While you won’t have access to their private messages, you will be able to see the content they post and in some cases, the people they interact with.
Now, we’re in no way saying you should spy on your kids, but we do feel that if they’re below a certain age, it’s not a bad idea to monitor who they interact with, especially considering that just about anybody with an internet connection and email account can sign up on these same platforms.
Keep things private
Be sure not to let your kids put any private information online. Their name is one thing, but they really don’t need to divulge where they live, their school, or any such details on their profile.
Also warn them not to give that information out to either a supposed friend online (we say supposed because catfishing is a real thing) or even to a simple quiz asking for their log in details.
When a quiz or survey site asks for your log in details before you can post any results for your friends to see, they use the data from your profile to supply outside companies with your information to target advertisements and other content. This isn’t a good idea, because you never know what these third parties could show to your innocent kids.
2. Adjust the privacy settings
You can also help them to adjust their privacy settings within the various apps to ensure that your kids only interact with certain people and see certain things. Here are a list of ways you can make Google, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat safer for your kids:
- Parent’s guide: Making Google safer for your kids
- Parent's guide: Making YouTube safer for your kids
- Parent's guide: Making Instagram safer for your kids
- Parent's guide: Making Snapchat safer for your kids
You could also discuss with your teen that they don't accept friendship invitations from anybody they don't know. Your teen may enjoy videoing herself bopping around to hit songs in her bikini top on apps like Musical.ly but you don't want random guys from across the world to see that.
3. Safety software and child-friendly apps
There are a few extra measures you can take, like installing software to keep your kids safe.
Kaspersky Safe Kids has updated their software to make it easier to monitor your kids online and ensure that no harmful content reaches them. One of these features is a safe search option, so that parents can hide particular sites and search results including adult websites, violent content and alcohol and tobacco-related sites. So even if your little one unwittingly searches for older content, it will be filtered out.
Other features include putting a limit on the amount of time children can spend on the devices in the home, activating the child location feature to request and track your child’s whereabouts and establish location boundaries for specific times of day, including alerts if these boundaries are crosses, and social networks management for parents to receive detailed statistics on their child’s social media activity.
NetNanny is another parental control software that uses deep learning to understand sites and their content and filter out all the bad pages from your kids’ search. You can create web filters by category and keyword as well to filter out content accordingly.
The software protects all your child’s devices from home, school or elsewhere, on all wifi and networks. It also blocks any apps you don’t want your kids to have access to, allows you to create customised profiles, pause the internet and receive real time alerts.
Keepers is an app that you can download on your child’s mobile device to keep track of their texts and social media platforms.
With the aim of combatting cyberbullying specifically, an algorithm was developed to detect emotions from incoming and outgoing messages and posts. This way the app can notify parents of any undetected threats in real time with a message sent directly to the parent.
Facebook recently launched Messenger Kids, a standalone app that, once downloaded, allows parents to sign their kids in with their Facebook accounts before handing the device over to their kids. Parents aren’t creating a separate account for them then, nor do they have access to their parents’ Facebook account. It is completely separate. They do however get to message and video call their friends and use funky and fun filters when doing so.
Parents have full control over who their kids interact with as they approve any and all friend requests and messages cannot be deleted in case parents want to check in, making it an easy to use and safe app for the kids.
Read more about online safety here:
- REVIEW: Selfies, Sexts and Smartphones: A Teenager's Online Survival Guide
- Is your teen internet safety savvy?
- Moms online: your family's privacy and safety
- Set parental controls on YouTube
- Parenting in the digital age
- YouTube’s toddler app ‘full of disturbing content’
- Boys need stricter security measures online
- Facebook launches new parent portal
How do you keep track of your kids online? Are there any other telltale signs that you noticed and other parents should be aware of? Tell us your story by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may publish your comments.
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