The virtual world is packed full of dangers, particularly for those who are less experienced. Children are vastly more likely than adults to fall victim of identity theft and various other online dangers. Even that aside, there is certainly no shortage on inappropriate content online as well. For better or worse, however, the Internet is here to stay, and it is becoming an ever-increasingly important part of our lives. Our children will no doubt grow up to be even more dependent on it, and for this reason, it is essential for parents to safeguard them online and educate themselves and their children about the dangers and risks.
Educate Your Children about Online Dangers
It is no good pretending that these problems do not exist, and it is a sad fact of modern life, that sooner or later, and no matter how hard you try to prevent it from happening, your children will inevitably end up viewing unsuitable material or getting into trouble online. However, if you educate them about the dangers of the Internet before this has a chance to happen, they will be better able to deal with such situations. You should insist that your children inform you immediately if they encounter inappropriate material or individuals on the Internet. At least then, you will be better equipped to deal with the situation rather than simply hoping that it’s not going to happen.
Protect Personal and Other Important Data
For the sake of your whole family, you should always take extra steps to ensure that any private or other important data is kept safe. You should ensure that your children know not to share personal information, photos, contact details or anything else online. It is a good idea to have a limited user account for your children to use, since this will prevent them from installing software or changing important system settings. This will help to protect your computer as well as safeguard yourself and your family from identity theft.
Use Built-in Parental Controls
Most modern operating systems now come with built-in parental controls which filter out most unsuitable content found on the Internet. You can also use parental controls to limit access to specific games and applications or even to set time limits. However, while it can be tempting to take parental controls for granted, it is important to realize that they do not offer a perfect solution. They make it easier to safeguard children when they are using the family computer, but relying on them entirely is a big mistake. If you prefer a more effective solution, you may want to consider a paid, third-party parental control suite. Again, however, these should still not be relied on entirely. Parental controls are not a substitute for responsible parenting.
Use Antimalware Software
Malicious software is the bane of any Internet user, particularly those who regularly download software and other content. Malware also comes in many different forms including disruptive or damaging viruses and Trojans or spyware designed to steal personal or financial information. Although operating systems and antivirus software is constantly getting better at protecting people from malware, hackers are also catching up by finding new ways to conduct their criminal campaigns. In order to minimize the risk of getting your computer infected, always keep it up-to-date and use antivirus software. It is also a good idea to prevent your children from downloading content from the Internet.
Monitoring Internet and computer usage is the most important thing of all when it comes to responsible parenting in the digital age. You can use software to make this easier, but again, you should not rely on it entirely. Commercially available keylogger software and other parental monitoring solutions all offer some useful features, but nothing is as good a substitute as actually being there and keeping an eye on them yourself. One of the most important aspects of responsible parenting and the Internet is where you place your family computer. Allowing your children to have their own computers in their bedrooms is asking for trouble. Instead, place the family computer in an open area where you can keep an eye on how they are spending their time online.