The web holds a wealth of information – including content that may be inappropriate or dangerous for young audiences. A request for personal details, cheap ticket offers to a sporting event, or suggestion to meet “in person” ? STOP! These are all red flags of online culture to watch out for. Kids are likely to run into online harassment, even from people they know, without proper cyber safety practices. Thankfully, many websites have parental control features. In honor of Safer Internet Day (February 9, 2016), here are some quick internet safety tips to keep children from harm’s way:
Google is perhaps the most widely used resource for finding information. Within “Settings”, you can enable restrictions that act as a safe search option for kids. SafeSearch is available for computers, phone browsers, tablets, and Android apps. It blocks sexually explicit video and images. You can also lock SafeSearch to prevent others from changing the setting.
Google states that “The SafeSearch filter isn’t 100% accurate, but it helps you avoid most violent and adult content”. For safer image results, try enabling both SafeSearch and the Creative Commons feature. If you’re looking for safe browsing sites, especially for younger children, check out these safe, kid-friendly alternative sites to Google, YouTube, and beyond.
YouTube Safety Mode
YouTube Safety Mode works much like Google SafeSearch, through community flagging and age-restrictions. It is also compatible with multiple platforms, but must be setup on each specific browsing profile. For a small monthly fee, some web filters and parental controls may offer the ability to enforce safe YouTube across all devices in the household.
To ensure a safe Youtube environment, you can supplement safety mode by adjusting privacy settings and ‘flagging’ videos.
Social Media Safety
- Make sure that only Friends can see any and all information
- Do not allow search engines outside of Facebook to link to profile
- Only allow Friends of Friends to send friend requests
- **For optimal security, limit people from seeing your Friends list
- Be “friends” with your child online to monitor their activity
**People can easily narrow down age, hometown, school, interests & hobbies from analyzing trends in associated profiles. You can limit who can see posts and personal information within your social media circle, but it is best to forgo listing any personal information whatsoever.
For Everything Else.. There’s Web Filtering
Windows 7 includes Parental Controls that allow parents to set time limits on computer use, limit and filter games, and block specific programs. However, if the computer is connected to a domain, these features are not available. Even Microsoft help pages suggest supplementary parental controls.
Consider web filtering! Traditionally, internet filtering programs have been most utilized by school systems – but the advent of new cloud technology allows for web filtering anywhere, and even in the home. Web filtering offers complete online security – it allows for parental monitoring (see how kids are allocating their online time, what sites they visit, and who they interact with), restrictions on explicit content, and easy configuration on multiple devices.