Keeping your children safe online

As the boys are getting older they are starting to want to use the internet and computer more and more. I have been mindful of this for a while now and know that dad of 3 and myself need to agree on some guidelines for the use of the internet by the boys.

Since September the older two boys have been asked as part of various homework pieces to use the internet. They have done this with either my help or their dads but at some point we need to allow them to use the internet independently. Last year I undertook a course with the Lucy Faithful Foundation called Parent Protect and as part of this course we looked at internet safety and ways as parents we can protect our children while they are online. I’m grateful that I had this opportunity as I have learnt more about the dangers of the internet for children and young people and steps that we can take to safeguard them.

I have spoken with the older two boys about being careful when they are using the internet and the fact that there are some people who are not who they say they are that they may come across when using social media sites. We have also discussed the fact that they should never give out personal information to anyone when asked online without mine or dad of 3 knowing first. I do like the fact that sites such as Facebook have an age limit for opening an account,however I do know a few young people who have had accounts before this age. In particular this last year the boys have constantly been asking to use the Moshi Monster website. Okay on the face of it it’s not harmful, it allows children to have their own Moshi and explore the various Moshi Lands/cities. There are challenges too which help with maths etc, but one key aspect is encouraging children to connect and chat with ‘friends’ via the website. This is what concerns me as a parent. Yes they can add their real life friends, but then how do they know who the person asking to add them is beyond their school friends? Children are particularly vulnerable and don’t understand the danger that lurks behind the computer screen. It is actually quite a difficult concept for children to fully grasp at a young age and due to this myself and dad of 3 have opted not to allow the boys to access the full paid for version of site’s like Moshi Monsters and not to allow chat facilities at this time.

As modern technology has evolved and new products have emerged,it has lead to children and families in general spending more and more time sitting in different rooms all accessing different internet sites at the same time. I don’t think there is anything wrong with everyone using different sites. My issue is with children being up in their bedrooms out of sight of their parents,who then are not aware of what their children are doing online and who they are chatting with. Dad of 3 and myself,as part of our work on the house, are aiming to have an area in either the sitting room or playroom both of which are in the main living area of the house, as a work station. There we are going to have a computer with internet access. This means that we will be able to monitor what internet sites the boys are using.

I know the boys school use software on their computers to ensure the safety of the children when using them and this is something that you can have on your computers at home too. I was actually reading this article last weekabout such software and found it helpful. I actually showed dad of 3 the article and we spent some time looking at various software available. We had a look at the Norton Family software and have been quite impressed by the features on it. It enables you to track all the websites your children visit or attempt to visit not only from their pc, mac or android mobile device, this would be very handy for us with the boys having their own tablets. At present they are not allowed to access the internet from them but we wouldn’t have to worry so much if we used this software. There is also a Social Media Monitoring facility which shows you how your children represent themselves on social media sites. You can see the name, age and profile picture they use. Some of the other features are a search supervision and personal information protection and a time supervision function which shows you how long your children spend on the different websites. These features are available in the free version but there is also a premiumversion available which has more functions.It would be great for those with older children who maybe have mobile phones as you can monitor the apps they use and even block some of them if you want too.

Knowing there is such in-depth software available that will help keep your children safe online as well as give parents peace of mind is fantastic. I don’t think we need to prevent children from using the internet altogether but I do think it is important to safeguard them as much as possible.

This post is brought to you on behalf of Norton Family. However the content of this post is 100% my own thoughts, words and feelings.

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