• Friday, May 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Making the Internet safer for your children

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The Internet has brought the world into our homes.Indeed it is a veritable treasure trove of information for all the family to explore; from homework help to online gaming, messaging and researching, our children have a lot to gainthrough and from the web.

Despite the above listed benefits, itis absolutely essential that parents ensure their children are taught how to use the computerin a responsible way. This can be done byputting in place measures that would protect thechildren from potentially harmful contents.

Children run into trouble online all the time, even when they are not looking for it. Misspelling a website address or screwing up a search term can lead to parts of the web that present a danger to them.Online bullying, predatory adults, and illegal downloading of copyrighted content are other threatsthey are bound to encounter.To help limit such issues, listed below are measures to protect your children from these potentially harmful contents or sites.

Step into their cyber-world

A good start for you as a parent is to learn a bit about the kind of things your children are interested in and then assist them in accessing suitable sites. Though we cannot make the Internet itself kid-safe, we can at least make its darker crevices harder to access.

Set house rules

Decide how much time youare comfortable with your children being online and which sites they are pemitted toaccess. You can do that by setting up parental controls and content filtering on computers, tablets, smartphones, and other gadgets, and it is easy. More important, these precautions empower your devices to protect children from digital dangers when you arenot around to supervise.

Teach children to protect their privacy

While they may not fully understand the consequences of revealing personal information online, you should still make sure your children know:

* never to give their name, phone number, e-mail address, password, postal address, school, or picture without your permission

* not to open e-mail from people they donot know

* not to respond to hurtful or disturbing messages

* not to get together with anyone they “meet” online.

Know that location is key

Keep the computer in a central spot, where itis easy to monitor its use. It is advisable to place the PC in the family room. That way, you can frequently check up on what theyare looking at.

Be their go-to girlor boy

Instruct your children to come straight to you when they see anything that makes them uncomfortable, and assure them that you will not overreact, blame them, or immediately rescind their online privileges.

Turn your ISP into your ally

Prior to buying a safety product, experts recommend that you work with what you have, starting with your Internet service provider (ISP). There has been a lot of talk of ISPs that are ‘child-friendly’. It is purported to screen what content they offer before it reaches your home. In reality, there arenot very many ISP’s that offer this type of option. Choose ISP’s that offer features that can limit children’s access to unwholesome websites and content.

Make your browser work double-time

If your ISP lacks that capability, you still have some safe-surfing options at hand on your browser (the program that enables you to view web pages). Internet Explorer has Content Advisor (under Tools/Internet Options/Content), which filters out language, nudity, sex, and violence on a 0 to 4 scale. Netscape and Safari (also available for Mac users) have parental controls like filtering as well. Using your browser will not get you the comprehensive results that a safety product or your ISP would yield, but it can be suitable for the times youare sitting next to your little one surfing the net.

Tune up your search engine

It is true your search engine can be pressed into service for free, but be aware: a tech savvy child could switch the settings right back on. Once you set restrictions, Google will block sites with explicit sexual materials (Preferences/Safe Search Filtering). AltaVista puts several types of offensive content off-limits with its Family Filter (Settings/Family Filter setup).

Chima Michael Oleru