Surveys find that four-year-olds in the US and UK are spending an average of 21 minutes per day on social media, and yet, we all know the problems and threats that exist in such circles. From bad actors to misinformation or the spreading of offensive media, there’s a lot on social media and the internet at large that you don’t want your kids to find.
Yet, it’s so very easy to do so. There’s a whole heap of tools available to enhance the security of your devices while your kids are using the internet, and some of the best options don’t cost very much at all. Importantly, the first steps are knowing the main threats and the places where protection is needed.
Know your enemy
In a deep dive into the time spent online, the threats faced, and the ways to protect kids online by ExpressVPN, it was found that parents and children perceive there to be somewhat different threats while on the internet and rank those that are similar very differently. For parents, bullying was the biggest threat.
This is followed by grooming, offensive media, cyberstalking, and then others trying to get their information. From the perspective of the children, however, bullying ranked fourth, but people asking you to buy things ranked fifth and is fairly similar to people trying to get your information.
Above bullying and purchasing, scary photos, scary videos, and people being rude to them ranked as the biggest online threats. This, perhaps, indicates that there shouldn’t be as much emphasis on the bullying aspect, and more on blocking swearing, offensive behaviour, and scary media.In the US, it was reported by the FBI that 2020 saw a 144 per cent increase in crimes against children, with nearly 10,000 reports being filed on child-facing online crimes. Many of these can be defended against with some cost-effective safeguards and setups across your internet-connected devices.
Setting up your blocks, controls, and protective accounts
For most kids, if you covet the structural integrity of your smartphone, a laptop or computer will be the main port-of-call for a child venturing onto the internet. So, the first place to go is the operating system. On Windows, you can find parental controls built into your computers, and macOS lets you create “managed accounts.”
Aside from blocking certain sites and media, another very important aspect is anonymity. As listed by HewlettPackard, you need to teach your kids that posting online lasts forever and can certainly come back to bite them in the future.
As people always make mistakes, especially young people, it’s key to have usernames that aren’t their own names or even telling of who the person may be. Anonymity can be a bad thing and permit people to say and post what they please, but it is a very useful tool to protect someone’s identity.
For a more hands-on approach, you can also get parental controls by joining other services for free. Qustodio offers a whole suite of specialised controls and tools that’ll allow you to filter content and even set some time limits – which can be key on time-stealing platforms like TikTok. As it can work across platforms, it’s a very useful tool to have at your disposal.
It’s important to have all of the measures in place to make sure that the internet is a safe place for your kids until they’re knowledgeable enough to protect themselves, and with a few tweaks and tools, you can achieve a good blanket of safety.