How to keep your kids safe online
In this age of internet access wherever we are and ever expanding global social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+, once personal information is provided openly on the internet, it can be difficult to take down again.
The number of tech savvy teenagers and children is increasing all the time and this demographic also tend to be the early adopters of new social media services. Information on these sites seems safe and secure but there is an ever increasing risk of people trying to take advantage of unsuspecting children online and steal their information.
Here at Geek Squad we believe that the internet is a wonderful tool that everyone should be able to utilise and enjoy, as long as it is used safely. In light of this, we have put together a list of top tips to help keep your family safe online and increase your confidence when using online services.
Below you will see some helpful guidelines to help keep your children safe online:
Protect personal information
Certain types of information are obviously more risky to give out than others. Before you even let your children get near a computer, sit them down and tell them why they shouldn’t share important personal information openly on the internet, especially where they live, their age, which school they go to, their parents names or any contact details including mobile phone numbers, instant messaging accounts and email addresses.
Screen friend requests
Make sure that your children are aware of who they are really talking to online. In the past people have pretended to be a schoolmate, friend or relative of a friend on a social network in order to get closer to children. Tell your children not to accept friend requests on Facebook, follow requests on Twitter or circle requests on Google+ without checking with you first. Make sure that they ask questions that only their friends and family will know the answers to, if the person is unable to answer the questions have your child reject the request.
Hide photos & locations
With the advancement of mobile phones and the integration of social networking into the mobile handsets themselves, make sure that your children are keeping themselves safe by not providing their exact location or pictures of themselves on public forums. If they are sharing photos on Facebook, ensure these are only visible to 'my friends'. Fine tuning the privacy functions of Twitter, Facebook and Google+ will help your children stay safely connected. If you struggling to get these configured, give us a call and we will guide you through it.
Easy for us to say, especially if adolescents are involved, but communication is a key part of staying safe online. Most parents are happy for their kids to socialise with their friends, but it’s really important that you encourage them to be open with you if they feel that they are either being targeted or bullied by certain users online. Let your children know that their safety is your main concern and the more open and honest they are, the less you actually have to be involved!
Utilise the tools available
There are many different free and paid family protection programs available for PC, Mac and mobiles, and what seems like a million different brands to choose from.
Family safety applications perform a wide range of functions, including monitoring websites that are visited and blocking unwanted websites containing adult content or harmful material. You will also be able to target specific search words that you would like to be blocked, so you can be more confident about your children web browsing when you're not next to them. Most of these programs will also inform you via email of attempts to visit blocked websites and searches for blocked words so you are aware of what the little rascals are up to!
One piece of excellent free family protection software is Microsoft’s Windows Live Family Safety. All you need to set it up is a Windows Live email account, which can be created easily during setup. The progam is easy to use and instantly familiar if you've ever used Windows security applications before such as Microsoft Security Essentials.
There are also some excellent paid for applications available, such as AVG Family Safety, Norton Online Family and BullGuard Internet Security. Most of these applications have trial versions available on their websites, so feel free to try one for a little while and see if it works for you. It’s important to remember that setting these applications up correctly is critical as a badly configured set of parental control will either not work or ruin your family's internet experience altogether.
Although it's not possible to protect your children from harm all the time, you can put the building blocks in place by educating them and giving them the tools they need to stay safe online. As ever if you have any questions feel free to get in touch and we'll happily support you in keeping your family safe online.