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Restriction or Education? – A Guide to Children’s Online Safety

Over the past decade children have had more and more access to the internet. They are also gifted with toys that can do almost what an adult’s iPhone can do. It is a terrifying reality. What is even more terrifying is that hackers know about this huge demand for these toys and whose hands these toys will fall into and they take full advantage. No matter how well a child is raised they are still a child and they have a vulnerability factor labelled to them. With their new toys and computers, they may click absolutely anything out of impatience and excitement completely unaware that they may have just clicked ‘Yes’ to a vulnerability where a hacker can now enter and spy on them.
Hackers have been able to access gaming websites, children’s smart watches and even Furbies, an interactive creature. Hackers can see the child’s information including their name and even their exact location. This is understandably a parent’s worst nightmare. We have compiled advice on how to prevent your child’s gadgets from hackers to ensure the safety of them and their information.

Be aware of their cyberworld
Tim Lordan from the Internet Education Foundation says “parents have to get involved. Just as they know every detail of the playground e.g. the jungle gym, the swings. They need to know their kids’ online playground as well’. It is not easy to keep an eye on everything they do, especially if the child is older and wants privacy, but it would be advised to check in frequently.

Set rules
Putting a limit on the amount of time spent on the computer can be effective not only just for the child’s health, but also for their safety. Consider parental blocks on certain websites or websites that need your permission to access. Explain to your children why these blocks are being put in place.

Teach them how to protect their privacy
Most importantly, teach them the risks that come with not protecting their information. This is not easy to explain to children, who not always comprehend consequences, however, these rules can be broken down in simple and understandable English and it can be effective. Compile ‘Internet safety rules’ that include reading before clicking anything, not clicking if they are not sure, not giving their name, phone number or address out or agreeing to meet up with strangers. This can be placed next to the computer so that if your child ever feels uncomfortable about something that has appeared on their screen they have something to refer to.

Install an anti-virus
This is self-explanatory, but one of the most important things to do. A lot of anti- virus software such as Norton come with parental control. Invest in safety.

Take advantage of the browser options
Your browser should have safe-surfing options that helps filter out inappropriate websites that include sex, violence or illegitimate websites where hackers and viruses gather. For more information you can visit sites such as https://www.cyberaware.gov.uk/, https://www.iwf.org.uk/ , https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre/parents-and-carers/parents-guide-technology

Keep an eye on your children’s toys
Most toys do not need a PIN or password to access. If a toy acts differently from when it was first bought this could be a cause for concern and it could potentially mean another party has hacked into it. Your child’s name and location could be installed in the toy and a lot of these toys use Bluetooth which has unfortunately led to hackers being able to communicate with the child. If you see any of these signs, report it immediately.

Restriction is effective up to a certain point, but it may not teach them a lot. Educating your child and providing them with the knowledge of Internet safety will lead to the best results. Please take a look at our blog post about porn malware and what the UK are doing about age restrictions on these adult sites.

We cannot tell when a hacker is going to target us or how, but it is important that everyone in the family takes every measure to prevent it from happening. Please contact us if you require our assistance.

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