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Keep your kids safe online Posted On 13 September 2019

 

Our children are growing up with technology as the norm and not just a treat, but how can you keep them safe online?

In this technological age, where kids are surrounded by tablets, smartphones and YouTube it is hard to know what is safe and what isn’t for your children. Most children already have a favourite YouTuber, play Fortnite or ROBLOX online with their friends and can surf through the web faster than most of their parents.

Here are some top tips for staying savvy and keeping for your kids’ safe online.

Social media and YouTube

Social media is full of scare stories such as MOMO, (which turned out to be an elaborate hoax) which spread like wildfire through school playgrounds. This doesn’t make it any less scary for your children as their wild imaginations push things to the limit. The problem with social media is that fake news stories, like MOMO, get shared and go viral.

Even if your child isn’t on social media, they will then find out about something viral through YouTubers and YouTube. There is a YouTube kids app with parental controls which can help limit what your child is watching. However, if you let your child watch YouTube, you can turn off the search settings, so they only watch videos pre-approved by you. Alternatively, remove YouTube altogether and set up a child’s profile for Netflix.

Computer consoles

With the release of Fortnite, the gaming world changed overnight. Suddenly, regardless of what console your child has, they can play online against their friends and strangers in a huge open-world environment. This brings up its own problems; strangers talking to your kids during the game, excessive time spent playing games etc. However, with Nintendo Switch’s capability to set parental controls and the ability to set play time limits, this is no longer a problem.

Both the Xbox One and PS4 also have child safety settings. These range from content settings for YouTube and other apps, to a password to power-up the console. The beauty of this is that your child can’t get up in the middle of the night and turn on their console without a password.

Smartphones

The age you give your child a smartphone is up to you as the parent. Some parents give them out at an early age because their child gets the bus to school, others because they’re tired of getting theirs taken off them every evening! With Smartphones being as powerful as some laptops, everything you can do on a tablet is now accessible on a smartphone.

If your child has a smartphone, set up parental controls so they cannot order any apps you don’t want them to have, and to stop them accidentally ordering from any in-game pop-ups.

With technology constantly changing, it is time to accept that not giving your children technology could hold them back in their school, and later in their careers. However, as with everything, there are some simple fixes to help keep your child safe while online.

Strangers online

As children and long before technology, we were warned about the dangers of talking to strangers when we were out playing. The same applies to your children online now. As parents it’s good to talk to your child at an early age about what to do if a stranger tries to talk to them online. You want your child to have the confidence to come to you if someone does try talking to them.

  • Tell your child not to respond: If your child responds to the stranger then that person has the chance to manipulate or talk to your child and convince them not to tell you about them.
  • Explain that they haven’t done anything wrong: If your child is worried about getting disciplined, they are more likely NOT to tell you if a stranger does try to talk to them; so, make sure they know that you won’t be angry.
  • Try to get a username: If your child understands the reasons for your concern, they may be able to get the username of the stranger. Using this username, you can then report the stranger to authorities.
  • Remove the specific game or app: Unfortunately, some games and apps are more accessible for people trying to contact your child. Simply remove these games and apps from your child’s console, tablet or smartphone. And tell your child the truth: don’t make up a story that the app or game no longer works as this will more than likely make them want to play it without your knowledge.
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