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Need expert digital and tech advice? Geeks2U are here to help. This time, to recommend apps and software for internet safety and to keep your kids safe online.
These days, internet safety for children is a huge issue and kids face many dangers when they’re operating in the online world, especially when engaging in social networking. From bullying and trolling to identity fraud and phishing, it can be scary and overwhelming and you need to be aware of the risks of online activities. But our resident Geek, Anthony Hill, Head of Technology at Geeks2U, has the tips, tricks and products for how to keep your kids safe online.
From the get-go, it’s important to guide your kids with some basic internet ground rules for online behaviours, so they’re able to practice online safety to protect themselves and your family. For starters, teach your child that you should never share personal information and sensitive information should stay private; that includes their home address, phone number and school details.
If they use social networking, social media or chat apps, ensure they stay safe by only accepting friend requests from people they know in the real world. And much like a stranger-danger talk you might have with little ones, explain that kids should never agree to meet up in person with online friends.
Encourage good lines of communication so they talk openly and face-to-face about what they’re doing online and come to you if they have any problems or questions. Instruct your kids to respect the golden rule of online activities: think before you post, chat, upload or download.
Hot Tip Discover more ways to keep your child safe online by reading the Australian Government eSafety Guide, which contains plenty of internet safety resources for parents.
“Setting boundaries is key, especially on what they’re allowed to do when they’re online,” says Anthony. Make sure you educate yourself by researching the apps, games and products available out there. Keep kids safe online by checking privacy settings and age restrictions before making decisions.
If you decide your kids are allowed to use social media apps, it’s a good idea to monitor their online activities to promote online safety. Using pseudonyms for usernames and non-specific profile pics will help in protecting children and their identities. From the outset, establish clear guidelines about where, when and how long kids can have online screen time. Especially with younger kids, ensure they only use mobile phones, tablets or computers in a communal space where you can keep an eye on them.
Always set parental controls, which are a useful tool to monitor and control what your kids are exposed to online. As Anthony explains, “Parental controls work by looking at the content of the site and then block [as needed] based on that content. They don’t block legitimate sites that kids need to use for schoolwork.” Through parental controls you can also monitor calls, messages and browser histories and cap the amount of time kids spend online. This could come in handy if they are accessing the internet while you’re not at home, so you can check for inappropriate content.
One of the best things you can do to keep your kids safe online is to subscribe to an internet security product from a reputable company. “Our recommendation is an internet security subscription on all devices; so computers, laptops, tablets, and phones,” says Anthony.
Most of the current security programs are very sophisticated and combine antivirus software with protection against scammers, cyber criminals and other untrustworthy people online. They’re also easy to install and operate and they update automatically online. “In some instances, like with virus protection, it’s updated on a daily basis,” Anthony says. It pays to do your research and discover the best security product for your particular needs.
Keep in mind that some work better with Android and PCs over Apple devices. If you’re looking to protect an iPhone, iPad or Mac, stick with Kaspersky Total Security Software, as it gets the best ratings for both virus detection and maintaining system speed. Many consider Apple devices safer when it comes to cyber threats but the truth is the surge in Apple’s popularity means more malware is now being developed to target Apple systems. Security measures are recommended for any and all internet connected devices.
Norton is a leading cyber security brand which protects 50 million users around the world. Its software is highly regarded and affordable. Norton offers a complete security package with anti-spam filtering, password management, virus detection and removal and backup management.
Kaspersky presents an even more affordable option to keep children safe. This Russian company is a favourite with the tech industry, as its suite of software boasts non-standard additional features such as extra security for online banking, a VPN and a tool that restricts access to your webcam.
Trend Micro is another security brand offering great value subscription packages, which may be a good basic option for protecting children online without some of the other bells and whistles.
The internet is an amazing tool. It has revolutionised so many aspects of modern life and can help educate and entertain our kids. But be aware of the risk it may pose to children and young people. Be on your guard and only visit secure and reputable websites, particularly when shopping online.
“A common one where people get into trouble is torrent sites or download sites,” Anthony explains. “They’re going to these sites and downloading movies or games and they’re very prone to having viruses, spyware and other nasty things involved in them.”
Stick to trusted websites and look out for anything fishy, such as spelling errors or broken links. While most web browsers will warn you when a site is not secure, you can also rely on your internet security software to keep children safe. “Here’s where that software can be useful as it’ll scan sites and protect you from going to fake ones that might look legitimate,” Anthony advises.