Are you keeping your children safe?
Bio: Having written for a range of trade and consumer publications, Victoria brings her love of all things local to the role of HugoFox News Editor.
Since first launching a little over a year ago, HugoFox.com has endeavoured to make the internet a helpful tool for all, from school children right up to silver surfers, and everyone in between. As part of the Race Online 2012 initiative, we pride ourselves on our easy to use, clutter-free site, that makes searching easy to do without lots of distracting ads for weight loss pills, bikini-clad ladies or online bingo.
However, not all websites are quite as friendly, or indeed as safe, when it comes to shielding the keen eyes of our little ones. And while we have families of our own and only want to protect them, in this day and age it’s impossible and probably unwise to put an all-encompassing ban on all things web-related.
With this in mind, HugoFox.com is backing Google’s push for internet safety, as the all-seeing, all-knowing search engine strives to provide parents and teachers with the tools, information and advice they need to provide children under their guidance with a safe experience online.
Here, we’ve put together a few helpful tips which can make your family’s surfing hazard-free, although we’d also recommend that you pop along to http://www.google.co.uk/familysafety/ for more information.
1) Try to keep use restricted to a desktop PC somewhere in the house where there’s plenty of traffic, like a family room such as the lounge, so that you can see what’s being viewed. As fantastic as tablets, iPhones and laptops are, they make it rather difficult to keep a close eye on the searches and pages your children are observing.
2) Install some parental controls on your computer. These will enable you to block particular search words, emails and webpages from being viewed.
3) Set some strict times for use. This is useful not only from a safety point of view, but preventing your child from being on a computer for hours on end each day is also important for their development and health.
4) Encourage your little ones to use a children’s search engine, such as those listed here. These are closely vetted to ensure no nasties get through.
5) Have separate ‘logins’ for every member of the family. That way, when you unveil a number of x-rated website visits, you can make sure it’s your 16 year-old son, and not your toddler. Or worse, husband!
6) Have a chat about cyberbullying. Sadly, it’s a growing phenomenon and can be intimidating, perhaps even catastrophic. By making sure that your child understands that it is not right and anybody giving them a hard time should be reported, you’ll encourage them not to suffer in silence. More advice can be seen on the Govenment’s website.
7) Warn your children that they must never give away any private information, try to buy anything online without you, arrange to meet anyone they meet on a chat room (these are best avoided altogether) and to be cautious when registering or signing up to new sites or forums. Trust is crucial, and if you are at all worried then check your computer history regularly to keep a close eye as to what your children are viewing. Remember, it’s natural for them to be curious with such a powerful instrument at their fingertips, it’s simply finding a way for them to explore and learn, without letting the ‘bad guys’ in.
Remember, the best way to keep your family safe online is to know how to use it yourself, and be familiar with how they will use it also. Computers are a way of life now, so make sure you’re confident with your own use of the internet, and you can show your children how to do the same.