The school summer holidays are now in full swing. At the time of writing this, the weather thus far has been far from ideal for the kids to be outside all the time, so it’s inevitable that they are spending more time than parents would like on their computers and tablets. And the more time they spend on their machines, the more time they may spend browsing and exploring on the internet and “chatting with friends” on social media. So how do you monitor what they are doing and how do you keep them safe? It’s not easy, so start with some basics such as setting boundaries and rules for your children from a young age. Then get involved in finding out more about the kinds of online interests that they have by asking them to show you how to do various things online. It can be fun and is also a way of spending more time with them. They will probably even like the fact that you’ve taken the effort to ‘catch up’ with them. You can also:
Ask them questions about what their friends do on-line, ask them to show you the newest and best websites and apps and ask what their favourites are.
Ask your children to tell you about all their email and instant messaging accounts and what the passwords are, thus allowing you to monitor their activities. Don’t feel guilty about it - you’re only giving them a false sense of security by letting them believe that privacy exists on the Internet.
Ask them to “friend” you on all their apps. This may not go down well but it could be one of the conditions for you allowing them to access social networking sites.
Talk to them about cyberbullying – ask them if they know what it is and if they, or any of their friends have ever experienced it?
Talk to friends, family and other parents about how they help their children to progress and keep safe in their digital world.
Ensure you know how to use parental controls on computers, mobiles and games consoles, privacy features on social networking sites, and the safety options on Google and other search engines.
Install software designed to keep children safe online, for example Qustodio, which helps you monitor web activity, blocks inappropriate content and sets a time schedule or limits how much internet time is allowed each day.
Make sure they know not to click on links in emails or instant messages, that they are aware of using strong passwords (which they should share with you) and are not turning off antivirus programmes and firewalls.