From socialising with friends to helping with homework, the web helps create well-rounded individuals - and provides them with really useful skills as they make their way through life. But alongside the good websites, there are as many that you wouldn’t want them to have access to. Here are a few of the best ways to keep them safe.
Download a parental control app
Keeping the family PC nice and safe is one thing, but it gets a little more complicated when phones and tablets come into play. That’s why downloading parenting control software is a good step to monitoring your kids’ screen time. Why not try one of these?:
Android (free), iOS (free)
Qustodio has the ability to filter web content, monitor and block calls, and has a ‘child location’ feature with a 30-day location history. It even includes a panic button so that your child can contact you in an emergency with just one click.
Android (free), iOS (free)
Kidslox is the perfect way to manage your kids’ phone time. You can set daily screen time limits, block all third-party apps individually or by category, create daily schedules and set periods of lockdown. Worried your tech-savvy kid will find a way to alter the restrictions? No need. It’s all PIN protected, too.
And there are plenty more where those came from. Just search ‘parental control apps’ in the Google Play or Apple Store and you’ll be faced with loads of completely free, user-friendly apps.
Put a stop to any sneaky or accidental in-app purchases – it’s easy to do.
On Android you can use password protection on the Google Play Store app. Just open the app and select Navigate to Menu > Settings > Require authentication for purchases > For all purchases.
To do the same on an Apple device go into Settings > General > Restrictions. Tap Enable Restrictions > enter a PIN then go to In-App Purchases in the list of options under the Restrictions tab.
Make YouTube and Facebook safer
You don’t want your child chatting with strangers or watching inappropriate videos on Facebook. Although there are no obvious filters to restrict explicit content, you can block individual users and apps in the settings options. It’s worth remembering that the minimum age requirement for a Facebook account is 13, so it’s not really intended to be entirely child-friendly.
Google offers an easy-to-use YouTube app for kids on Android and there’s another for iPhone/iPad. It’s completely free, has a simpler interface and uses algorithms to filter out unsuitable videos in search results.
Stay in the loop with Google Family Link
Give your kid a Google Account that's just like yours. They get to enjoy the freedom of their own account, but you get to keep an eye on what they're doing. For example, you can manage their apps, set a bedtime for their phone and limit screen time. We've written an article all about Google Family Link - see it here.
Set some rules
As well as putting parental filters in place, it’s important to educate children on the risks of online activity. Kids these days are digital pros, so you may want to cut down on – or ban completely – using their device alone in their bedroom. Tell them what is and isn’t acceptable online, and encourage them to let you know if they receive or see any inappropriate content. Keeping the channels of communication open is always really important.
Is there anything we’ve missed? What precautions have you put in place to keep your kids safe online? Let us know in the comments below.