Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Education and restricting access: two keys to keeping children safe online

For those of us who didn't grow up with internet access, this tech savvy generation of youngsters often has us in awe of its skills. However, while we may feel rightly proud of our children and grandchildren, it is important to remember that however knowledgeable and confident they are when it comes to technology, they are still children and do not have the wealth of life experience to make them wary of some of the dangers that they may encounter online.

There is no doubt that internet access offers many benefits to children. It provides access to a wealth of resources that can help them with their homework. It also offers a way for them to share creative work such as stories and drawings as well as allowing them to play games and stay in touch with friends and family, wherever they may be in the world. However, it is sadly also the case that there are less benign aspects to the internet and, without the right kind of protection and guidance, children may unwittingly put themselves at risk - for example by sharing information with a stranger who is not as friendly as they may seem - or compromise the security of the computer by accidentally exposing it to viruses or malware.

Such risks are not a reason to prevent children from benefiting from all the positive things the internet has to offer, but they do mean that responsible adults need to educate themselves on the types of hazards that exist, so that they are in a position to ensure children are safe online.

Fortunately, the internet itself offers a wealth of knowledge about online safety, which responsible adults can access to inform themselves and the children in their care. One of the best ways of raising children's awareness of online safety is by discussing the subject and finding out what they already know - or think they know - and encouraging them to think about the kinds of situations they could run into online and how they might respond to them.

As well as learning what risks to be prepared for and discussing these with children, a practical step is to install goodquality anti-virus program which also features parental control tools. Using the parental control settings, adults can restrict the websites that a child can access in order to reduce the risk of them viewing inappropriate content.

Anti-virus software and parental controls will help keep your child safe when he or she uses your home computer, but remember that other parents may not have taken the same precautions. If you are concerned about what your child may access online at friends’ houses, it may be a good idea to discuss the subject with other parents to make sure they are aware of online risks and how they can protect their children from them.

I would not allow my children access to any computer that does not have a fantastic antivirus program on it. I also like the parental controls that comes with my program

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