Recently, OnBuy.Com commissioned some research to find out how best parents can protect their children online. Here, we go over some of the things they found.
Search engines for kids and filtering programmes can be effective in allowing parents to control what sites children can see. Netmums recommends Net Nanny – this software can monitor online content, limit screen time and filter sites to protect your children. OnBuy Smart Watches discovered that parents also recommended the following search engines for kids – Aj Kids and Kids Search, whilst users on Mumsnet suggest censoring thread titles on the forum (keep Mumsnet forum names PG) so that children are not exposed to explicit words if they happen to look over at the computer screen.
Inappropriate instructional websites
Netmums refers to ‘inappropriate instructional websites’ as sites that promote step-by-step instructions for inappropriate topics such as concealing anorexia or taking drugs. These can be accessed through other genuinely useful instructional sites, and so run the risk of being taken seriously by children.
OnBuy Tablets found advice on all of the reviewed parenting forums pointing towards blocking inappropriate websites, or downloading software that prevents pop-ups and inappropriate instructional sites from popping up.
Chat room safety
Mumsnet users suggest bans on ‘Whatsapp’ and social media platforms (Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter are all rated 13+) for younger children. However, parents are aware that there may be other chat room apps so suggest daily monitoring of your child’s phone. Regular checks can ensure that your children are staying safe on chat rooms and that nothing goes unmissed.
Other users on the forum also suggest locking or removing the device overnight, so that your child gets adequate sleep and isn’t exposed to unsolicited and unmonitored messages when unaccompanied.
According to the Anti-Bullying Alliance – one in five schoolchildren in the UK has been a victim of some form of online abuse.
Netmums highlight the importance of open communication with your child, in a bid to quickly identify when bullying might be taking place. Parents also suggest teaching your kids techniques for dealing with cyberbullies, such as muting chats and reporting bullies on social media. If your child is a victim of cyberbullying from their peers, Mumsnet advises getting their school involved. This will escalate the situation and send a clear message to the bullies that their behaviour is unacceptable. It will also make your child feel more supported and safer in the school environment.
Mumsnet users advise to send any incidents of online phishing to: firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as it’s spotted. Other advice includes either ignoring phishing emails/messages or changing your settings so that mail from that scam address goes straight to the deleted folder.
Malware can appear through infected websites, bad software, music and movie sharing sites, as well as online video games. It can expose children to harmful or sensitive material. Consider downloading a firewall to prevent malware from popping up.
It is also recommended that you download a good virus software on your browser, as that will find and remove spyware from your PC.
Preventing Reckless Behaviour
MadeforMums users have shared articles that suggest having open conversations with your children, and establishing yourself as a calm and non-judgemental friend. By having this open dialogue, you will be aware of what is going on online and therefore more likely to prevent your child from acting recklessly. OnBuy Smart Watches also found that parents suggest turning off particular features, such as ‘in-app’ purchases.
Mumsnet users suggest pre-emptively teaching your children to never open unknown links. Another preventative measure advised by MadeforMums is talking to your child about personal information and teaching them what can and can’t be shared online.
Mumsnet users suggest blocking spam emails or numbers, as well as teaching your kids to not respond or click on any unknown links. To prevent instances of spam further, Mumsnet users also suggest changing your passwords regularly so that all of your children’s accounts stay secure.
Poor wireless security
MadeforMums users suggest limiting particular web page access on your children’s devices. This can be done through the installation of a firewall or through blocking specific websites.