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Realize reasonable use of the Internet and strengthen the safety of children

Thirteen is effectively the age of majority online under a two-decade-old US law, and is the minimum set by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat – all of which are massively popular among children – Copyright AFP Nicholas Kamm

An internet expert has revealed how keeping all devices in one room can protect your child online. It’s in the context where children have more access more screen time than ever, especially internet access.

Internet security has become a growing problem among parents, however internet expert Allison Troutner of said Digital diary on the best ways to keep your child safe online.

These reasons are:

Consider a family “tech deal”

One way to set ground rules with your child is to create a Family Tech agreement. A family technology agreement answers as many questions as possible about internet and device use so that boundaries are clear to all family members. It’s a great way for the whole family to talk about safe and responsible behavior online.

To create a family agreement, discuss topics such as:

  • What apps, games or sites does the family use the most?
  • What rules do we want to include in our agreement?
  • How much time should we spend on our devices?
  • What information can be shared (or not) safely?
  • What do we do if we see something inappropriate?
  • What email address do we use to create accounts?
  • Do we know how to use in-app security features such as blocking and reporting?
  • Who can we talk to if we feel uncomfortable about something online?
  • Who to talk to safely?
  • What happens when someone breaks the agreement?
  • When could the parents be forced to break the agreement for safety reasons?

This is a starting point: your family can discuss more topics about internet safety for kids depending on the age of your child or teen and the devices you use.

Report any harmful content you see

Flag or report any harmful content or contact yourself or your child using social media apps using the in-app reporting features. For cybercrime, cyberbullying, or harmful content, use in-app features like Twitter’s safe mode to report it. Most social media companies have their own security and privacy policies and will investigate and block content or users. Apps aimed at children, like Facebook Messenger Kids, have clear guidelines and security features so that users can block content or contacts and have a safer experience in the app.

Balance security and independence

Tech controls can be a helpful way to protect your kids online, but they can’t solve all your problems. Children need a certain degree of freedom and privacy for healthy development. They need their own free space to learn by trial and error what works and what doesn’t. So keep the balance, that’s part of it. Having open and honest conversations with your children can be the best way to balance this security.

Keep the computer in a common area

If possible, keep computers and devices in a common area so you can keep tabs on activity. It prevents children from doing things that could be risky. Also, if harmful or inappropriate content appears in the messages, you can immediately talk about it with your child.

Password protect all accounts and devices

From phones to computers to apps, put a password on it. This way, no one without a password can access you or your child’s device. Keep track of passwords using a password manager.

Regularly update your operating systems

All of your devices, from cellphones and tablets to computers and smartwatches, regularly receive important updates in response to security issues. Be sure to install them regularly so you have the latest security patches and stay safe online. Our recommendation is to configure updates to install automatically so that your device is less vulnerable to known attacks. Usually you can find this feature in Settings and then select Automatic Updates, but this varies from device to device.

Install security or antivirus software and a VPN on your computer

Also, cybersecurity or antivirus software prevents spyware or viruses that could damage your computer if your child visits a malicious site. Using these programs, parents can also set up regular virus checks and in-depth system scans to ensure that no harmful activity is happening right under your nose.

A VPN hides users’ Internet activity from spies and spoofs your location. This protects your children by ensuring that hackers or predators cannot detect their real location. You can install a VPN on your router so that the location is spoofed on all connected devices.

Set parental controls

It may seem obvious, but parental controls are crucial for your child’s online safety. Parental controls are built-in features included in devices and apps. With these features, parents personalize their child’s online experience. The parental controls available on each device or app vary, but in general they limit screen time, restrict content, and improve user privacy.

Parental control features:

  • Limit screen time.
  • Disable in-app purchases.
  • Prevent inappropriate or mature content.
  • Limit access to the website.
  • Read, message or send/receive content with approved contacts only.
  • Monitor device location via GPS.

Take the time to look at what parental controls are available on apps commonly used by your child. Then configure them to reflect the type of experience you think is best for your child or teen’s online safety.