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The concerns over internet safety for kids in the 21st Century is REAL and a cause for worrying parental headache. But Why?

The internet is a very exciting and awesome place because of the vast information and possibilities it offers. Just as well, it is an awesome place for children. It gives them access to music, movies, games, and other awesome stuff. It also answers their questions better than you, or better than you are willing to.

Now, this poses the big question of online safety, especially when you start to imagine the other questions, they ask in your absence. The reality is, they spend more time online than you and have advanced access to social media apps and YouTube, either through your cell phone or other computing devices belonging to the siblings!

They probably navigate the Internet better than you!

Excess screen time exposes children to all kinds of stuff online and offline. Kids will stumble upon inappropriate content or the geeky ones will seek out whatever information you have probably failed to address. Their wondering fingers may as well lead them to explicit pages which will upgrade their curiosity to another level! They are always a click away from seeing what they should not. You probably could not explain some of these naughty pages to them – not to 5-year-olds.

Now back to the headache of internet safety for kids!

How do you safeguard your children online, to ensure unwanted unpleasantries do not happen? Besides the advanced of child curiosity and excess use, there is the matter of hackers, scammers, and malware all waiting to unleash attacks on your children and family devices.

Listed below are common online dirt you may want to shield your child from:

  • Pornographic content
  • Violent content
  • Lack of privacy
  • Excess interaction
  • Cyberbullying
  • Profanity
internet for children
Child shying away from computer. (Pixabay)

Parental Control and Internet Safety for Kids

The good news is you can allay some of your fears by implementing parental control measures on top of your browser, smartphone, tablet, laptop, router, game console, to filter out unwanted content. These tools will not give you the ultimate protection you crave but somehow is a starting point.

You should also implement basic security options provided in the operating systems such as Firewalls, VPNs and by turning off location services.

Below are a few internet safety tools to get you started.


1. Enable Google SafeSearch

Google safesearch
Google SafeSearch

Google is the most popular search engine and for this, receives tones of search requests throughout the day. It has not escaped the attention of young children too, and so do hackers, spammers and marketeers. It is only smart that you ensure it is secure enough for you and the children.

You can enable the inbuilt SafeSearch feature, to filter out bad content from showing up in search results.

To do this, head over to Google’s preference settings page to get started:

Click or tap the SafeSearch checkbox and you should be good to go. Fortunately or unfortunately, your geeky child may just be able to turn this feature off, if they suspect it has been enabled. To prevent this from happening, go to the next point.

Just next to the SafeSearch checkbox is the Lock SafeSearch link. Click on it in order to lock out your child from playing smart. You should be logged to your Gmail account in order to do this.

You should be able to see a notice that SafeSearch has been turned on at the top right of your browser. Do this for every account and browser to ensure maximum protection. Do not forget to enable SafeSearch in all other computers and mobiles in your house. Use this Google Search Help page to learn how to turn on the SafeSearch feature on different platforms.

While SafeSearch is not necessarily 100% filter 100, it will help filter out inappropriate content such as explicit sex and pornographic search results and sites.


2. Use Content Control Software

open dns for child safety online
OpenDNS website

Besides trusting control tools from Google and other search engines, you may also want to try out other online tools to ensure internet safety for children. You can choose from a vast collection of Content Control Software, to help filter out unwanted content from ever reaching the computing devices at home!

Content control software are available for IOS, Android, Windows and Mac platforms, and are available as apps for mobile, laptop and desktop computers, and extensions within the browser.

Also known as internet filter, these tools can watch over

  • e-mails
  • installed apps
  • computer location
  • social habits
  • blacklisted sites
  • screen time

Now that we know what enemy to fight, do your research on software tools and websites to get started. Popular sites apps and sites in this category include:

  • NetNanny
  • Qustodio
  • OpenDNS website
  • MamaBear
  • Norton Family
  • Kaspersky safe kids
  • Cyber patrol
  • Wi-fi Blocker
  • MobiCIP

Browser extensions include:

  • Parental control app
  • Nanny
  • Stop kids
  • Tiny Web filter

3. Use Content Control Hardware

wireless router
A wireless router: Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Almost all computing devices that ship today come embedded with programmable control features which parents can activate in order to filter out the Internet dirt.

But you can enforce even better security when you install a dedicated router and/or a gateway device which sits between the home devices and Internet. These give elevated configurations and to make you the master of the internet at home.

Simply get one of these devices, install it, or plug it to an existing Wi-Fi router at home and to get started. The default settings are good enough, but you may want to get dirty with settings if you trust your way around configurations!

Most routers and gateway hardware allow you to configure the following options:

  • Block porn sites
  • Block bad apps
  • Black list and whitelist sites
  • Allows screen time settings
  • Ad block settings
  • Monitor online activity

Below are examples of content control hardware:

  • WIFI Routers from NetGear, LinkSys and Asus
  • Kids WIFI router
  • Gateway hardware such as Circle with Disney

These devices come with software backends through apps and online portals where you can make the necessary configurations.


4. Install Security Software

Bitdefender security
Bitdefender security

Most security software today will filter out bad content they believe should not reach your computer or mobile. They should be installed in your computer and updated regularly in order to address new and evolving malware threats.

Besides installing filtrations from bad sites, security software will help you fight off common malware (malicious software) such as:

  • Viruses
  • Trojans
  • Spam
  • Scam
  • Bad ads

Below are some popular security software you may want to consider:

  • Bit defender
  • Kaspersky
  • 360 Total Security
  • AVG Internet Security
  • Norton Internet Security

5.  Active Parenting for Internet Safety for Children

Active parenting is perhaps the best option when you choose to implement internet safety for kids, to help steer them away from the hidden evil inside the Internet. And this is not just endless overbearing about what they should and not do, and impossible impositions, but friendly discussions and guidelines for your children.

Active parenting is about preparing your children to face life issues even before they happen. It is about empowering them to have answers to difficulties they encounter even when on their own.

Research by Social psychologists Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs popularized active parenting in the mid-20th-Century when they cautioned parents to prepare children with relevant life skills.

Today, active parenting involves the quest to stay ahead of the changes brought about by technology.

According to HowStuffWorks,

Active parents take a proactive approach to parenting, as opposed to waiting for problems or issues to develop before they are addressed. They try to beat the problem to the punch and increase a child’s awareness of an inevitable childhood issue (such as bullying or peer pressure) before it arises in the child’s life.

TOM SCHEVE

Impositions and over spying may not work exactly as you wish if the children are a little more tech savvy. Over spying also means you do not trust them. Further still, they can access the internet elsewhere in public Wi-Fi and the neighbor’s homes, where restrictions may not be in place.


What you can do

First and foremost, let them know about your concern about online interactions, given their age. Let them know the ills of cyberbullying, inappropriate content and internet overuse. Better still, let them be aware of the long-lasting effects related to tech misuse. Discuss with them the matter of online privacy and let them know how oversharing info with strangers can land them in trouble.

While it is true they may not appreciate the whole idea of online excitement and its repercussions, at least let them know the following:

  • The internet is good but not always because it is an open platform.
  • There are so many evil people online ready to cause harm to them.
  • Never open emails whose sources they do not know.
  • They should not respond to profanity and bullying online.
  • They should avoid interactions with online strangers.
  • Never to reveal their phone numbers, passwords, and email address online.
  • The importance of using parental control tools.

This way, they can learn to filter out bad content on their own, and probably educate the neighbor on the question of internet safety.

And most important, let them know they need to talk to you when they encounter anything contrary to what is right.

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