Having children that love the internet is a great thing. The net is full of exciting and fun things for them to take part in, discover and explore. But it’s also a place full of other people and sadly, there is no test of niceness to gain access to the internet. So keeping kids safe online, especially for us who didn’t grow up with internet access, can seem like an impossible task.
But there really are some very simple ways of keeping your kids safe online, and yet still allowing them the freedom to explore, discover and have fun. For our young kids we keep them safe by limiting what they can access on the internet to sites that are appropriate using free and easy methods.
However, for older kids, especially when social media sites like Facebook start to make an appearance it gets harder. An out right ban will have most kids signing up behind their parents back anyway but allowing them to interact on an adult platform is a scary thing for us parents.
A recent study of 2,000 parents of kids aged 10-17 showed that the main areas of concerns for parents were who their kids were talking to online, how much time they spend on the internet and the type of sites they are visiting. Half of parents said their biggest concerns when it came to social networking sites were that their children could be talking to complete strangers and 16 per cent said their offspring had signed up to social networking sites behind their back, despite the fact they knew their parents would object.
Other than snooping on your kids accounts and reading their emails and texts, how do you sleep easy knowing they are online unsupervised? We have been testing this great piece of software from Bullguard which allows you to keep an eye on their Facebook activity without being intrusive or hacking into their account.
Just add the profiles you want to monitor, and Social Media Protection will flag the social activities that pose risks, including: Links to malicious websites or inappropriate content, posts, photos and private messages with violent or offensive content, suspicious friends, possible bullies or predators.
As our kids are far too young to have Facebook yet I tested it out on my own account and was really impressed with how it works. It’s simple to install – you either send them an email with the info or do it yourself if you have passwords – and once on there you can see everything that they do.
You can read private messages, see who has friended them, anything inappropriate that might crop up in their feed and anything they might be tagged in.
Below is what I see when I look in the messages area. By clicking on the arrow on the right, the message expands so that I can read it, It also highlights any words that it deems risky.
This includes any photos that crop up in your child’s feed, not just things that they have uploaded but things that they can see. It flagged this one up as risky due to the use of ‘balls’.
The depth of what you can see, the fact that you can read the messages they receive and see who they are friends with is a big plus in my book and this is something we will be installing on my children’s Facebook when they get to that age.
Identity Protection from BullGuard costs £34.95 and, in my opinion, is well worth it for peace of mind.