Eleven Things You Can Do RIght Now To Make Surfing Safer For Your Kids
1) Ensure that you update your anti-virus and anti-malware protection. If you do not have this protection on your computers, laptops and even smartphones, you need to get some NOW !!!!!!! Most Internet Service Providers such as Shaw, Bell and Telus offer great anti-virus/malware protection that is usually free to their subscribers. Third party products such as Norton, McAfee and AVG are also available for purchase. Hey Mac users...... this means YOU TOO. Given that Apple is starting to take a bigger chunk in the market place, the Apple OS system is now becoming more vulnerable than in years past. I use MacKeeper.
2) Given that Google is the largest search engine that kids will likely use, activate Google Safe Search. This will minimize (not fully) the risks of your child seeing inappropriate web sites, images and videos. Again remember that Google Safe Search is not 100% effective at filtering out all inappropriate content, but it is a good first start for younger kids. Remember that you will have to set up Safe Search in each browser you use (google, Safari, Firefox) as is does not carry over across multiple browsers.
3) Given that YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google (oh by the way YouTube is now owned by Google) , and a site where kids go all the time to search out video, activate YouTube’s “Safety Mode”. much like Google Safe Search, Safety Mode acts like a filter to keep out inappropriate age content. Again remember that this function is not 100% effective at filtering out all inappropriate video content, but like Safe Search, it is a good first start for younger kids. Remember that you will have to set up Safety Mode in each browser you use (Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox) as is does not carry over across multiple browsers.
4) If you are using Facebook, or allowing your child to use Facebook, make sure you update your privacy settings and clean out your friends list. Remember that Facebook, whenever they send out a software update, it often bumps your privacy settings back to a lower setting. This is why it is so important to ensure that you check your privacy settings at least once a month.
5) Secure all web Browsers that you may be using (Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome). Most of these browsers also offer filtering tools that help to ensure that your kids have a “safer” browsing experience that can be located in the tools settings.
6) Update “Parental Settings” on your Mac OS or Windows PC. Just like your Internet Browser, your operating systems also offers its own set of parental controls which allow you to set time limits, access restrictions to specific applications and programs on your computer, plus other important topics that you can choose to use.
7) Consider purchasing third party vendor filtering software to use in combination with your operating system and Browser filtering capabilities. One of the better filters that we recommend in Net Nanny 6.5. Understand that once your child reaches their teens, it is not uncommon for kids to bypass filters using something called a “Proxy”. A Proxy is another Internet connection on-line that your filter does not recognize. Once connected to a proxy, your child can then surf anything and everything to their delight. Net Nanny 6.5 advertises that kids can’t by-pass their product using a Proxy. Reviews of this product are promising. This is why we also recommend installing an overt monitoring software product mentioned in step 8. If your child attempts to use a proxy, this monitoring software will advise you of this fact.
8) Consider installing “overt” monitoring software (meaning that everyone using the computer knows it is being used). One of the best products on the market that I recommend is “Spector” which can be used on both a Mac and PC. This lovely monitoring software allows the parent to capture screen shots of everything that pops up on the monitor, tracks every keystroke typed, captures every web site visited, captures every email sent and received including any and all attachments, captures all chat activity, captures everything done in Facebook and other Social Networks, captures all online searches in any and every browser used, captures all programs used. Spector then prepares a report for your review that you can program to see daily, by-weekly, weekly or monthly via your email.
9) Ensure that you are using a router. A router allows your computer to stay more invisible while you are surfing on-line, making it harder for a “creeper” to do bad things to your computer. Routers are cheap and easily installed. Most Internet Service Providers, like Shaw, offer a modem and router all built into one device. Please ensure with your service provider that you have one of these hybrid units because if you do not, you will need to buy a third party vendor product like a D-Link (for PC) or a Apple AirPort (for Macs)
Router Apple: http://www.apple.com/wifi/
10) Secure your child's Xbox and Wii play stations. Modern gaming play stations allow texting, audio and face-to-face video to take place meaning that anyone can connect with your kids if you do not have the security settings up and running.
11) Talk to your kids about Internet and Social Media safety and being a good digital citizen while on-line. Remember that at younger ages, parental supervision while on-line is a must.
If you as the parent implement the above noted eleven steps, it will make your child’s surfing experience “safer”.
The Digital Sheepdog