Online Safety for Children: A Guide for Parents

As parents, it’s our basic instinct to protect our children from any kind of harm. What makes this responsibility even harder these days is that the young ones have access to the internet and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

While these technologies can aid in their learning, constant exposure and overuse can have devastating effects on young people’s physical, mental, and psychological health such as obesity, developmental delays, anxiety, and depression, among many others.

Your child’s privacy can also be compromised by the excessive use of the internet. A child who often uses the internet without guidance from parents is easily prone to cyber bullying, online phishing, and identity theft. Yes, they do happen not just to adults but also to children.

So how can you safeguard your little ones without spending your entire day monitoring their every move at home? For one, you can visit and contact a reputation management site to learn how to ensure cyber security for your kids. Another effective precautionary measure is to set parental controls on mobile devices at home, which I’ll discuss here.

Setting parental controls on electronic devices

The first few steps that we can do to protect our kids from using too much technology is by setting parental controls on their electronic devices. It’s one way of childproofing the gadgets at home that filters the content that your kids come across online and prevents them from becoming cyber-addicts in the future.

Here are the steps in setting parental controls on the devices that your kids use:

Windows

If you want to put parental controls on your Windows computer, all you have to do is enable the Microsoft Family feature and add your children. This program can help you control your kids’ internet use, control the days and times that they can use your laptop, and keep them away from harmful online content. Here are the steps to set it up:

  1. Go to Settings and then click Accounts.
  2. Choose Family and Other Members > and then click Add a Family Member.
  3. To add an account for a child, choose Add child. But if you’re going to add an adult account, click Add an adult.
  4. Enter the family member’s Microsoft email address. If they don’t have any, choose The person I want to add doesn’t have an email address and then click Next to proceed.
  5. Click Confirm and then close the window.

The family members you’ve added to the Microsoft Feature will receive a confirmation email. They should confirm it before it expires, and if that happens, just repeat the process.

OS X

Unlike in Windows, all parental controls are integrated into the OS X itself rather than being dependent on external websites. In addition to limiting your kids’ internet use, you can also prevent them from interacting with cyber bullies and identity thieves.

  1. Select Apple Menu > System Preferences > Parental Controls.
  2. Enter your admin username and password.
  3. For every existing user, toggle the box of Enable Parental Controls, then set it up. You can also add users by clicking the Add button at the bottom user list then assign a username and a password.
  4. Set age rating limits to keep your kids from opening apps from the App Store through the App Section. You can also control their web surfing by limiting the sites they can visit via the Web Section, who they can interact with in the Game Center, and set time limits for overall use in the Time Limits section.

Android

To be able to set parental controls on an Android device, make sure it’s running on 4.3 Jellybean and up.

  1. Go to Settings > App User or Profile > Restricted Profile.
  2. Tap the settings icon next to the new profile to add a username and then toggle the apps that you think are harmless to your kids. However, this setting doesn’t block websites. So it’s better if you don’t put any browsing programs at all.
  3. If you don’t have the latest Android gadget, Google Play is equipped with third-party parental apps that can be very useful in monitoring your kids’ electronic device use.

iOS

Apple devices have built-in settings that let parents protect their kids from harmful online content. If you and your kids are iOS users, here’s how to easily manage the online content they consume and their screen time:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Restrictions.
  2. Enable the restriction and put in the 4-digit password you’ve set for your phone.
  3. Below the enable button is the list of apps that you can choose from. Toggle the apps that you’d like to censor your kids from.
  4. Subsequent to the list of apps are other information that you might like to turn off, too, like in-App purchases and privacy settings like turning off GPS or the use of third-party apps.

Xbox One

Here’s a guided run-through for changing the online safety and privacy of your kids who use an Xbox One:

  1. Sign in to the console.
  2. Press the Menu button using your controller and then choose Settings.
  3. Scroll to the right, find Family, and then select your child’s profile that you’d want to modify.
  4. Set permission for various features and command like web browsing and content rating restrictions.
  5. If you want to set customized permissions, choose Use, but customize button then create your commands.
  6. For XBox 360, you can easily control the access by applying the restrictions through the XBox Live website.

PlayStation 4

If your child has a PS4, you can use its parental controls to limit your little one’s access to games and web browsing. Here’s how to enable them on a PS4:

  1. Log in to your Master’s Account and don’t share the password to your kids, so they can’t change the restriction setting.
  2. In the Settings > Parental Controls, set a 4-digit password.
  3. Set up accounts for each of your kids. Go to Settings > Parental Controls > Manage Sub Accounts and then set the restrictions you’d like to apply.

Internet safety tips for parents with young children

Aside from installing parental controls in every electronic device that your kids can use, it’s still best to let your children know and constantly remind them of what they can and cannot do online. Here are 10 internet safety tips for small children that you can do:

 

  • Get to know your kids’ hobbies and interests to know their internet activities and behaviors.
  • Get to know your kids’ friends (both online and offline) because they can influence their internet habits.
  • Allot time to discuss with your kids how to be a responsible internet user.
  • Explain to them the risks of meeting strangers and giving out information online.
  • Impose rules on internet and device usage for your children to follow.
  • As much as possible, accompany your kids and guide them when they’re browsing the internet, and don’t let them do it alone.
  • However, avoid being too critical with their web surfing. Let them show you what they usually do online.
  • Make sure that your kids are knowledgeable about User Privacy Settings.
  • Set reasonable time limits that your kids can abide by.
  • Be internet savvy yourself to know the latest trends, scams, and parental controls that you can use at home.

With these tips and safety precautions, you don’t have to worry about your kids’ internet and electronic device usage. All you need to do is to consistently and properly implement your rules and educate your kids with everything they need to know about online safety.

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