Keeping kids safe online

Following research from internet security firm McAfee which reports that 72% of parents often worry about their kids’ online safety, FQ and McAfee have come together to offer you some top tips for ensuring your kids are safe while using the internet.

Top tips for parents:

Switch on security controls – Get to know what protection your anti-virus software or security suite provides. Activating parental controls and setting the right level of security is the first step you should take to create a safer surfing environment for your children.

Careful PC placement – Put the family PC in a communal area (such as the living room or kitchen) with the screen facing the room as this will allow you to more easily see how your children use the Internet.

Open up discussions and hold regular joint Internet sessions with your children – Being online is no different than being outside; you always want to know where your children are and become familiar with the places they visit. Ask your child about their online friends, in the same way as you would about their school and neighbourhood friends. Encourage your children to surf with you so that they can talk you through the different tools they use and their favourite websites. This will encourage a joint learning experience with the child teaching parents more about Internet tools and the parent offering the adult point of view.

Actively educate yourself – Use the Internet to see what’s out there; join some social networks yourself (and perhaps add your children as friends) to see how the new tools work to better understand what the potential risks could be.

Work as a team to set boundaries – Discuss with your child exactly what is safe and unsafe online behaviour regarding the kind of websites they visit, the social networks they use and the chat rooms they visit. Make sure you talk with children specifically about what is and is not appropriate behaviour online.

Make sure your children understand basic rules for using social networks – They should guard their passwords and never post personally identifying information or inappropriate photos. Blogs and social networking sites offer privacy tools that can be turned on to restrict potentially dangerous users. The sites often automatically provide these protective tools to children under 15 years old. Children should share information only with people they know from the real world.

Stanger Danger – Stress to your child that they need to tell you if they receive any odd or upsetting messages while chatting and that you will not be angry with them or ban the Internet as a result. Make it clear to the child that you understand that they cannot control what other people say to them.

Recognise that cybercriminals don’t target a specific type of person – they are opportunists looking to take advantage and make money from all online users, regardless of age.