The key thing is to learn how to get parental controls set up properly so that you won’t have to worry as much about online safety when your kids start to use the internet for both school projects and entertainment.
There are many ways that the version of the internet that your kids see can be fine-tuned. One option is to use a free content filter that is offered by all of the major providers.
There are also sophisticated software that is available for sale that you can invest in if you feel the need for a more advanced solution.
In order to determine which is best for you, we will be covering some of the major parental control options that are available to you.
In this article, we will be discussing various parent control options that are available to you. However, keep in mind, that although there are some very useful parental control tools that are available – it is still important for you to watch what your children are doing when they are online as much as you can. There is no substitute when it comes to parental supervision of children.
All of the major UK broadband providers, including EE, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Sky, and BT offer content filters as a standard feature.
They block off sites that contain material that is inappropriate for children, like self-harming, pornography, and other nasty material. Access to sites that are known to contain malware and viruses are also restricted. The best internet packages will have this as standard nowadays.
Which broadband providers offer the best security?
You will need to decide whether or not you want to use the filters when you are getting your broadband first set up. The settings can be changed at any time by simply logging into your account. So you can always change your mind on whether you want to use the filters or not.
Some broadband providers offer parental control software as part of their broadband packages. This type of software is widely available. Content filters are network-level filters and are applied to anyone who uses the connection.
By contrast, parental control software affects only the device that it is installed on. So for example, if you install parent control software on your desktop computer, it will not affect what your children are doing when they are using their tablets and phones.
In addition to filtering inappropriate content out, like gambling-related, violent and pornographic sites, some of this software also lets you monitor the online activity of your children and even restrict what times of days certain websites can be used.
This can definitely come in handy. You will finally have a way of keeping them off of sites like Facebook and YouTube when they are supposed to be doing their homework.
In general, any device that is able to access the internet has its own onboard parental control sets that can be tinkered with before allowing your children to use it.
That is particularly helpful if the broadband company provides you with the software that is the kind that applies to just one device at a time.
For example, Apple’s iPad and iPhone, have a broad range of restrictions, and you cause the settings menu to easily access them. You can lock them in place and protect them using a password.
Those devices, in addition to many others, also allow you to disable paid transactions inside of games and apps. That way your kids can run up any bills without you knowing about it!
There is no such thing as a flawless system. That is why it is a very good idea to make use of all of the different tools that are available to you.
When you place restrictions on the way devices can be used and also install software, it makes it double unlikely that your children will be exposed to any unsuitable or harmful material while they are online.
This will help to put your mind at ease, which is so important these days with all of the dangers lurking online.
At times your web browser, which is the program that is used for browsing the internet, allows you to block out certain kinds of websites.
Those settings may be used in conjunction with whatever software you have installed on your computer already which provides you with an added layer of protection.
For example, when the Google Chrome browser is used – which is a free download that is available to use – it includes a feature that allows you to set up different account profiles for managers and supervised users, which gives you full control of how your children can use the internet when they are online.
Once again it is best to use these features of the browser in combination with other parental controls, especially since the settings apply only to the Chrome browser. More tech-savvy, older children can quickly discover a workaround, such as downloading another web browser other than Google Chrome.
On certain internet platforms and websites, like iTunes, YouTube, and Google, there is a family-friendly filter that can be switched on that should block out any content that isn’t suited for children to see.
Once again, keep in mind that there is no such thing as a flawless system so that is why it makes sense to use these features in combination with other kinds of parental controls.
This is only really effective to use with very young children since older kids can figure out how the filter can be turned off if they get curious enough and want to look at things that they know they aren’t allowed to.
General advice on how to get safe online
Get Safe Online, an internet safety initiative has provided the advice below. We hope you find it helpful to manage your children’s experiences online.
Set some boundaries even before your child gets their first internet connected device – whether it is a console, laptop, tablet, or mobile device. After they have their device, it might be harder to change the settings or how they use it.
Network-level parental controls are offered by all major providers. When you switch to a different broadband package, you will have an option for turning content filtering on, so that adult material is blocked.
Keep in mind that doesn’t mean all bad stuff will be blocked – there is no such thing as a fully effective filter. You will need to stay vigilant and supervise your children.
Have a discussion with your children about what is appropriate and safe to share and post online.
All videos, photos, and comments are part of a person’s ‘digital footprint’ and may be seen by anybody and be available forever on the internet.
Speak with your children about the type of content they view online, along with the precautions they need to take when they are communicating with others online – for example, to never share personal information with strangers.
Keep in mind that services such as YouTube and Facebook have a reason for having minimum age limits of 13 years old. Don’t cave in to pressure – speak with your child’s school and other parents to be sure everyone is on the same page.
Explain to your children that being online doesn’t provide them with protection or anonymity. Make sure that you clearly tell them that they shouldn’t do anything over the internet that they wouldn’t feel completely comfortable doing in real life.
Ali Qamar is a privacy and cyber security enthusiast, his work has been featured in many major tech and security blogs including InfosecInstitute, Hackread, ValueWalk, Intego, and SecurityAffairs to name a few. He runs SpyAdvice.com currently. Follow Ali on Twitter @AliQammar57
(Security Affairs – safety for kids, Internet)