This generation’s kids are born into a networked world in which more and more things are linked over the internet. Online activities are inseparable from other aspects of life. The internet is tied up in how they learn, bond with friends, explore their identities, and express themselves.
While the internet allows kids to grow, however, it also presents threats: harmful content, malicious people and software, and illicit surveillance to name a few. Fortunately, there are a number of simple but effective steps you can take to keep kids safe online. By being proactive about internet safety, you can give your kids the headstart they need in making the most of what the internet can offer.
The kind of content kids access online is a major concern for most parents, especially when it comes to younger children. The internet provides a lot of educational material and wholesome entertainment, but it also host a lot of questionable content. The divide between the two isn’t always clear, as shown in the controversy over YouTube Kids.
Creating a more controlled online environment is fairly easy, though. You can start off younger kids with browsers and search engines designed for kids. There are several to choose from, targeted at a variety of age ranges. For older kids, you could try browser-based restrictions or ask your ISP (Internet Service Provider) if they provide parental controls.
In all cases, however, remember that these don’t work perfectly with user generated content (as the YouTube Kids example proves). It’s best to keep kids away from that until you’re sure they can discern for themselves where they should or should not be going on the internet.
Viruses and malware are another problem kids can run into online. The consequences of having your device infected with these programs can vary: it might mean unwanted pop-ups (with questionable content), flooding your browser, or damage to your software, or data theft.