To say it is important to keep children safe on the Internet may sound somewhat mysterious. There is nothing dangerous, harmful, or unsafe in merely looking at a screen whether on a television (TV) or a computer monitor. To be clear, add that the safety concern is that what children see or hear online may lead them to venture into unsafe encounters with criminals they contact at predatory websites.
TV is not an entirely safe medium either in the sense that programs with violent or immoral content may inspire children to engage in reckless or foolhardy behavior with unfortunate effects, but the Internet, unlike TV, is interactive, and, while something seen on TV may be of passing, perverse interest, something described and discussed in an online dialogue is much more likely to lead naÔve, impressionable children astray.
The ability to connect with others online always attracts young children. While willing to provide them with educational and entertaining personal electronic devices, their parents justly remain concerned about how to guard them against online miscreants who might kidnap them for ransom, exploit them sexually, sell them into slavery, or do them other grievous harm.
Before providing them with equipment for Internet access, parents should warn their children of the risks of online dialogues and make them security conscious. Just as they warned about strangers in the neighborhood or on the street when their children were small, so they should warn about strangers online now that their children are old enough to handle electronic devices and explore the Internet.
Having warned, explained, and answered all questions from their children about the dangers from criminals online, parents should oversee their use of the Internet to be sure they do not forget their warnings or fail for any reason to abide by them. Rather than long, intensive interrogations about website visits, regular review of their online history file contents should suffice for oversight in most cases. If the children voice resentment at the oversight, parents should explain that the policy is to trust but also to verify, that the parents trust the children to be careful and responsible or they would not provide them with the devices, and that the oversight is a necessary, temporary backup measure for extra security assurance against unusually clever and cunning criminals.
Antivirus with Parental Control
Antivirus software fortified with parental controls that keep children away from notoriously menacing websites prevents many hazards from happening. There are security applications that transmit simultaneous screenshots of online activities and conversations to parental smartphones so parents can remain fully informed at all times about who their children talk to and what they talk about. This precaution also can retain copies of any information that may be helpful to law enforcement in dealing with sexual predators.
Antivirus programs with parental controls maintains the ability to monitor activity. For this reason, an antiviral investment in ESET, an established brand, makes sense as free, complimentary samples often offer only incomplete protection. Some favorite ESET features:
Ability to see from remote locations what children play or view
Ability to intervene and block access when children would go to unsuitable websites
Ability to check on child locations and send them messages that lock their devices until they respond
The Internet has a language of its own full of abbreviations and acronyms that can be dangerous when uncooperative children use them to make dialogues difficult for parents to understand. Predators sometimes encourage them to conceal their conversations.
Simple passwords may seem to make daily life easier, but it's better for security to complicate them so hackers do not override security settings. A few suggestions for passwords:
Don't use personal or business names
Use upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters
Don't use birthdays, maiden names, or anything commonly known
Making the password a complete sentence
General Security Training
Solid passwords and reputable software programs are important, but the best thing to do is to talk to children. Explain that there are predators everywhere and especially dangerous behind online masks. Children listen even they seem not to. Some subjects for discussion with them:
Pictures posted online are there forever
Sharing passwords is not a good idea
Log out of a computer properly when finished with it
Save pornographic content and report it to trusted adults