Keeping Children Safe

Keeping Children Safe

The internet is indeed a worldwide web where almost anything we should need or want can be found, but remember – it’s also a web in which children could find themselves in danger

How can I help my children stay safe online?

First think about the possible dangers they face. These include the following:

  • So-called ‘drive-by downloads’ (i.e. malicious programs that install on your computer automatically when you view a web page);
  • The risk of infection through peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing programs that give others access to your computer;
  • Unwanted advertising, including pop-ups and adware programs: these are sometimes installed automatically with freeware programs that are available for download on the Internet;
  • Sexually explicit (or other inappropriate) content;
  • Being tricked into disclosing personal information (about them or you);
  • Downloading pirated material (e.g. music or video files);
  • Being targeted by online bullies;
  • Being approached (in Internet chat rooms, for example) by pedophiles.

What steps can I take to protect my children?

Children can be just as vulnerable online as they are in the real world and it’s important that you understand the potential dangers. There are things you can do to minimize the chance of them being exposed to these dangers.

Talk to your children about the potential dangers they face online.

If possible, locate your computer in a family room and try to make the computer a shared family experience.

Encourage your children to talk to you about anything they experience online that upsets them or makes them feel uncomfortable.

Restrict the content that can be accessed from your computer. Many Internet security solutions let you do this. In addition, Internet Explorer includes a Content Advisor that can help you do this (this can be found under Tools | Internet Options | Content ).

Follow the guidelines above for protecting your computer from malicious programs and hackers and explain to your children how this helps protect them.

Provide guidelines for them on what they may, or may not, do. Here are some of the things you should think about:

Are you happy to let your children...

  • register on social networking or other web sites?

  • make online purchases?

  • download music, video or program files?

  • use instant messaging programs?

  • visit Internet chat rooms?

    (If the answer is 'yes' to the last two, make sure your children understand they should not chat to users that they do not know)

Remember that the answers may change as your children get older.

To protect your children online:

  • Talk to them about the potential dangers;

  • Keep the computer in a family room;

  • Encourage your children to talk to you about their online experience;

  • Provide them with guidelines for online activity;

  • Use your programs' settings to restrict content that your children can access online;

  • Follow the advice above on how to protect from malicious code and hacker attacks;