Safer Internet Day 2021: Childproofing Your Internet

Thanks to the pandemic, it’s likely that your children are spending more time on the internet than ever before; and as a parent it can be worrying trying to protect them from the potential dangers that lurk on the web.

However, before you restrict their internet access entirely, it’s worth considering that 73% of young people surveyed by The UK Safer Internet Centre feel that being online has helped them through the pandemic and lockdowns and supported them emotionally in general.

With such a high number citing the internet as a vital part of their mental health as well as everyday life, it’s important to take a closer look at what sort of content is being shown to them, and how you can ensure your machines and most importantly your children are staying safe.

Exposure to misleading content and scams

Over half (51%) of young people are encountering more misleading content online now than in previous years. Another 63% of surveyed children said they would be likely to fall for things like gaming scams, sneaky/hidden sponsored ads, filtered/edited imagery on social media and stories from unofficial sources. (The UK Safer Internet Centre)

Children are likely being tricked into these scams because their general awareness on how to spot a false link or webpage is low. As a result, more resources from kids are being asked for, to help them to navigate the internet better.

Young people want more education on the internet

61% of these young people also want to learn more about how to spot misleading content online, with young people calling on social media and other online platforms (78%) and the government (72%) to do more to get involved in tackling misleading content online.

Digital literacy: How to help kids verify the content they see

Teaching your kids to be media-savvy in the modern day is critical, especially considering that the rise of social media has given way for anyone with an account to post whatever content they want freely. More so now, the pandemic has given people an opportunity to spread more false information that will be consumed by many more people due to their need to be online more often now.

Thanks to this, false information is going viral and unless children are able to spot these fake pieces of content, they will likely fall into some of the traps of scams, fake websites and so on.

Here are some ways to help your children spot fake links, news or likely scams:

  • Check the way a URL ends – some ending in .co might be trying to appear like legitimate news sites but often aren’t
  • Check for low quality, such as grammatical errors, words in all caps, headlines that may not make sense or content that makes bold claims with no sources to back them up – be skeptical of these
  • Check the website’s “About Us” section – if they don’t have one, be skeptical
  • Verify any content you come across online by searching it in Google or Wikipedia – if you can’t find any sources to verify any claims being made, then it isn’t true, especially if reputable news sources are not reporting on it

In essence, it really comes down to verifying what they see across multiple reputable sources. It’s important to reiterate that their friends are not a reputable source of information.

Parental Control Checklist

  • Set parental controls on your broadband to create a safe space for children to explore online
  • Use a child-friendly search engine as the default homepage on your browser
  • Create family accounts for sites they might frequent such as YouTube
  • For smart phones check parental controls are also set up on the mobile network
  • Use the device setting so you can only download age-appropriate apps and games
  • Set up password control or disable in-app purchasing so big bills are not run up accidentally
  • Disable location services so your child doesn’t unintentionally share their location with others
  • Download age-appropriate apps you’re happy for your child to use
  • If your child is using social networking apps check their profile and privacy settings, making sure they are not sharing personal or private information with people they do not know

You can also visit Internet Matters to find out how to set up parental controls for a range of different devices.

Starting a conversation about online safety

Sometimes parental controls still might not be enough, and it can be hard trying to get your children to open up about their experiences on the internet.

We recommend these steps to start a conversation with your children about online safety, but if you are ever seriously concerned, please use services such as the NSPCC for more support:

  • Remind them that if there’s ever content they come across that they’re unsure about, they can come to you – and remember it’s safe to do so, with no judgement on your end
  • Take an interest in their friends online and find out how they know them – whilst it’s okay to meet other children online, be aware of who these people are and how much time your child is spending with them online, or how often they speak of them
  • Ask them what they enjoy doing online – sites they like to frequent, games they enjoy playing and so on, and be sure to keep an eye on their behaviour

TSG’s Knowledge Base

Whilst we recognise that we’re here to support your business, a lot of the advice we give our customers for business cybersecurity can also be applied personally in your day to day life, which might also include these areas. If you do have a business and want to know more about our cybersecurity services, get in touch today.