How to Keep Your Children Safe Online

kid-safety-onlineTimes have changed since we were kids, and one thing that really sticks out is how quickly young children pickup on technology compared to previous generations. Obviously, the advent of technologically advanced devices taking over our lives has something to do with it. Remember when your mom use to ask you to program the VCR? Well nowadays toddlers often get around mom’s iPad better than her!

Kids now get a huge amount of education and entertainment through digital devices, and although it’s not all bad, concerns about the safety of your kids online is something all parents should take note of. For the past two decades, most concerns came from teenagers using the internet, but now it is important to keep a watchful eye for children almost as soon as they learn to walk. The good thing is that it does not take a rocket scientist to put in place the required security to keep your whole family safe when browsing online.

Educate Your Kids

The first thing that parents should do is talk to their kids about online safety. Everything starts with knowledge and education and is used as the foundation of everything else. You can have all the best security software installed on your computer but having an informed child is just as important, if not more. The most common dangers are online chats, sharing information with strangers or websites.

The main thing is to advise them to never share their name, address or any other personal information. All chat activity should be somewhat monitored in their early years and even better completely restricted to private friend connections only, ensuring they remain off any public chat rooms.  Having them ask you before signing up for any type of online account is a good idea, all while pointing out and advising how to spot phishing scams and malicious websites along the way to ensure they only use trustworthy sites. Young well informed children will usually learn better at avoiding online traps and viruses into their teenage years.

It does not stop at basic internet security tips, check if your child’s school is teaching them about online media and security concerns along with online cyber bullying, sex gender representation and those types of topics affecting online activities. MediaSmarts is a great resource originating form Canada but available to all parents and children regarding these various topics affecting children while online. They cover the basics of digital & media literacy, a term we should all start becoming more familiar with, especially if we have kids to raise.

Blocking and Filtering Content

First and foremost, an antivirus is always recommended for devices used by children. They will often automatically block malicious websites and files while often offering parental controls to block adult and inappropriate content. No matter if it’s a smartphone or anything else, there are a variety of apps that are designed to give you those same parental options. When using a computer, you can easily set user accounts for everyone in the house and daily applications are slowly integrating parental options to make things easier. Google’s Chrome browser now includes a parental block option with no additional add-ons required. This is an important step that should never be overlooked. Every device and application is different, so we welcome you to check out device specific applications that best fit your needs

Use a VPN Connection

As we always say, no security can be matched by that provided from a proper VPN connection. The Virtual Private Network connection tunnel effectively protects your whole family while using the internet, no matter where you are connecting from. It works by encrypting all the data flowing in and out, ensuring no one can steal your information and spy on you. When using a smartphone or connecting to public Wi-Fi connections, you are vulnerable to local attacks looking to steal your private information. With a VPN, you remain safe on every device and every connection you use.  Check out our top rated VPN services to find the one that matches your needs best and invest in the safety of your family in this ever growing inter-connected online world.

Protect All Devices 

It is important to think further than just your home family computer. As we covered earlier in this article, our kids are using a variety of devices from iPads to smartphones and other digitally connected devices such as gaming consoles and hand held devices. It is important to ensure all of the devices are being looked at and secured in the best possible way. Using a VPN router may help get all the devices secured when using the home connection, but it is equally, if not more important to keep them secured when using external connections.

Verify and Secure Privacy Settings on Social Media 

Social media networks have grown to be part of daily online activities for most, kids included. This is a very important and often overlooked step at keeping your kids safe online. Ensuring that posts, pictures and videos are set to private and only shared with friends and family keeps attackers and prying eyes away. You don’t want your child’s pictures and videos ending up in the wrong hands, just the though makes me sick. Since social networks often update their privacy policy and settings, it is important to keep a routinely check-up of all settings, ensuring that recent policy changes did not remove previously set privacy settings.

Check Browsing And Usage History

Now we don’t suggest you become a spy yourself and check on everything your child does online. This can be hurtful to a teenager who is now discovering the importance of having his or her own little bit of privacy, especially with their romantic yet embarrassing relationships. In other words, unless you have a suspicion of something really bad, you should never be trying to snoop on your child’s private message inbox. However, checking browsing history is not a bad idea, at all ages, to ensure they are having a safe online experience and added education when malicious sites are being visited.

If you’re in need of a VPN, please search for your country or device to get our top picks of VPNs for your need.

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