How to Monitor Your Children's Internet Activity and Keep Them Safe

It's no longer enough to just regulate TV access of our kids nowadays. Many kids are more hooked on using the internet and their gadgets. Are your children always taking selfies and posting status updates on their Facebook page? Are they constantly playing online video games with people they know and don’t know? Kids are always connected to cyberspace, so parents need to be concerned about ways to implement online safety for kids.

Good things are accessible via the internet …

I’m not against the use of the internet. In fact, I can work and earn at home because of the internet. Most of my kids learned to read and count because of online programs, such as Headsprout and Starfall. They can easily do their research and homework thanks to the unlimited educational resources online. When they have nothing to do, they can find a game to play, a movie to watch or a DIY project to do.


But don’t let the internet garbage slip in…

We need to regulate the use of the internet because our kids are exposed to many potential dangers through this channel. From time to time, I hear bad news that is internet-related.
  •  Something awful happened to a teenager because she befriended someone on social network.
  •  A child was kidnapped because her mom posted status updates on a social site.
  • Someone’s social network account has been hacked and the hacker posted malicious content.
  • Then lately, there is this big controversy about a banking system that was hacked and there was a big time money laundering issue (probably this last issue is something that does not concern our kids but it does worry me).
Every time our kids go online, they are vulnerable to exposure to malicious and inappropriate content without them realizing it. Some games that they might play or YouTube videos that they might see are violent, sexist and use foul language. Research says that exposure to such things can spark bad behavior. Are you wondering where they learned that nasty word or naughty trick?

Pornography, cyberbullying, sexting, online predators and identity theft are very rampant online. What can parents do to protect their kids from falling victim to these? There are two things that should be on a parent’s to-do list in line with this.
  • Monitor the child's’ activities online, whether on a computer, tablet or smartphone. Some would consider this as invading privacy, but as a parent, you’re only doing this to make sure that your child is safe.
  • Filter out the media and content that they get so you’re sure that they are age-appropriate.  This might mean blocking some websites.
The question is how can parents do these? I’m sure parents have a lot of other important things to do. How can they monitor their kids’ online activities?

Here are some steps you can do to monitor your children’s internet activity and these do not cost anything:

* Log into the computer that your child uses. Open the browser and look at the websites your child has visited. If it's a Google Chrome browser, go to the upper right-hand corner and click the icon with 3 dots and a drop-down menu will appear. Click history to see a list of all websites visited on this computer. Take note of any website addresses which may be of concern so you can talk about it with your child.



* Make a list of websites that are off-limits to children because of inappropriate content. These could include YouTube.com or some gaming sites. Filter what types of websites may not be good for your child. Have alternative websites that your kids can access, for instance, set up YouTubeKids.com if you want your kids to watch kid-friendly videos.

*Put a safety control on your kids' internet search activity. You can go to www.google.com/preferences and turn SafeSearch to block inappropriate content (most violent and adult content) when your children use Google's search engine.

* Put the computer your children use in a visible location. If you notice that your child covered up or turned off the screen in a hurry when you were coming, it may indicate that your child is looking at something they shouldn’t.

* Download a browser that is safe for your children to use. There are many kid-friendly browsers like Kiddie, KidRex, KidzSearch, etc. Do your research to see which one works best for your kids.

* There are also software programs that help parents to monitor the devices used by children, including cellphones and tablets; block websites and apps; limit the hours of online access, etc. There are free options like Windows Live Family Safety, SocialShield and Qustodio Free. There are also paid options. Compare them and find out which one will work best for your family.

Lastly, parents should set a limit to the time the children are allowed to use gadgets. Unlimited use could certainly harm your children. It will distract them from studying and working on their school stuff. Some children also spend more time playing mobile games that they don't eat and sleep right. If we love our children, we should watch out for our kids when they access the internet and use mobile devices.

If you have other tips and recommendations regarding keeping our kids safe in this digital age, please share them in the comments. Thank you.


Comments

GiGi Eats said…
Everyone is exposed to Internet danger. It's not easy to avoid it these days sadly.