Protecting your children from inappropriate and harmful content is possibly the hardest of all internet safety precautions, as this kind of content is absolutely insipid online. Inappropriate and harmful content includes images or video of pornography, violence, anti-social behavior and vandalism.
It is the content that we can monitor efficiently offline thanks to censorship, TV listing times and classifications boards. However online content monitoring is still relatively non-existent and classification and blocking content considered the responsibility of individuals and parents not governments. We are however not here to point the finger, as the problems of internet policing are many and not likely to be quickly solved.
With that in mind, however, there are a number of steps you can take as parents to ensure that your children have the maximum amount of protection from inappropriate and harmful content.
Now when children are younger (below 10) they should simply not be using the computer without supervision. With it being so easy to access inappropriate material even on common sites like Facebook and YouTube supervising your children is the surest way of preventing exposure to this kind of material. However once your children reach a certain age this becomes more problematic, though a number of steps still exist to supervise your children.
Firstly, parental control software is essential at blocking a lot of inappropriate and harmful content. Tracking your child’s usage through cookies and history will also allow you to check on the content they are viewing and adjust their use for the future.
However, when children get to a certain age they will increasingly be able to browse the internet without supervision. To stop them viewing inappropriate material, you can strategically place your home computer in a family room and ensure that no laptops exist in bedrooms. This will mean that they are less likely to intentionally expose themselves to inappropriate or harmful content and in combination with other security measures should keep them relatively safe.
If you’re child has access to either a smart phone or computer in their room there are still a number of steps you can take to ensure their safety. Firstly, you can disconnect your internet at night to prevent them accessing any inappropriate materials and ensure that you also have access to their computer. When it comes to mobile phones, parents often overlook the wide variety of accessible material smart phones offer. Ensuring that you have a block placed on the content accessible will ensure your child doesn’t get exposed to harmful material.
Educate Your Children on Internet Dangers
Supervision is probably the surest way to keep your children safe but becomes untenable after a certain age. The key to internet safety beyond a certain age is having instilled knowledge and awareness of the dangers of material on the internet. This is not just inappropriate and harmful content but a general grounding in good internet practice.
Making your children aware of the dangers they may face in the digital world is of course an important first step but when it comes to violent or pornographic content giving your children a firm grasp of the ethical implications, shady practices, legalities and moral and social consequences is actually much more effective and efficient than simple restriction.
Once your child or children have matured, having a frank and open discussion with them about materials on the internet is a much more productive route to avoidance than other more draconian seeming methods. We all know how teenagers especially react to the words “you can’t” and all the variations we as parents have to offer, so this method offers a more mature way for them to access this problem whilst still ensuring you remain with maximum control and input.
Special Thanks for my Guest Blogger.
Jane writes about internet safety for children in order to help raise awareness to parents about the potential dangers of the digital world.