Four ways to keep your child safe online

The UK lockdown has brought about new challenges for parents – from juggling WFH with home schooling to keeping the children entertained for long periods at home. 

And with increased time spent in the house, it’s natural for digital device usage to skyrocket – with little ones turning to laptops, tablets and phones to amuse themselves and pass the time. 

Though effective at staving off boredom, upping your Internet usage also brings with it security concerns, increasing the risk of being targeted by hackers or online predators.

Modern parents now need to contend with an ‘invisible’ threat lurking behind a screen or username – an unfavourable by-product of living in an ‘always on’ era of endless gaming, messaging and scrolling. 

So, it’s no wonder mums and dads feel they need to take extra steps to keep their children safe. In fact, a recent survey carried out by leading internet security provider, ESET, revealed that four in ten parents feel they’re stricter with their children than their parents were with them. 

The study polled 2,000 UK parents of children between the ages of two and 17, with the aim of finding out their approach to modern parenting and the types of rules they practise when it comes to cyber security. 

So with more time spent at home, browsing and chatting, how can we really make sure our kids are staying safe online? We’ve put together some tips below to help get you started.

1) First and foremost, educate yourself

Technology is forever changing and it can be difficult to keep up! However, as a parent, you need to make it your mission to stay abreast of the shifting digital landscape.

What are the tell-tale signs your child is talking to someone that isn’t who they say they are? Are younger people being targeted in particular? If you’re unsure of the possible threats, do some research on trends and news within this sphere so you can look out for any signs of risk.

It’ll also lend more weight to your discussions with your kids if you have stats or studies to lean on. 

2) Be open and honest with your children

If you’re not particularly open about the subject of cybersecurity with your children, it’s unlikely they’ll feel they can come to you to discuss any problems they might be experiencing. 

Ideally, you want to create a space where your child can flag anything that’s making them uncomfortable online – and a willingness to listen and be open creates a gateway for this kind of conversation. 

3) Offer tailor-made advice 

Nowadays, the many different areas of online activity means that a ‘one size fits all’ approach isn’t always appropriate. 

Some children are keen gamers, so it’s important to tell them to flag any in-game purchases with a family member. Others, particularly teens, might be using email a lot more for school and studying, and are therefore more at risk of receiving suspicious emails and links. 

Make sure you’re offering advice that aligns with the kind of activity your child is engaged in – whether that’s messaging, watching, gaming or creating something. If you need a refresher on the sorts of rules to be implementing, have a look at ESET’s list of rules for modern parenting

4) Create a support network

It’s likely your children are chatting and video calling with their friends more so now than ever. Make a point of speaking to the other parents and establishing a support network where you can flag to one another if you suspect something’s wrong. 

Additionally, if you’re all fairly aligned when it comes to the appropriate amount of time spent on the computer and online, it’s much easier for you as a parent to enforce rules knowing that other parents are taking a similar approach. 

We hope this has provided you with food for thought when it comes to keeping your children safe online.

Read more advice to keep your children safe online

You can read more tips to help protect your children when they’re online in these articles:

Photo by Sven Brandsma