Five minute fix: Keeping your kids safe online with parental controls

Filed Under: Android, Featured, iOS, Windows

Keeping your kids safe online with parental controlsWhen I was a young lad my parents always used to worry when I went out with my friends. "Don't talk to strangers," they would say, before adding, "don't accept a lift from anyone you don't know."

Being a parent myself now, I know why they were concerned. The advent of the internet has done little to put mothers and fathers at ease. If anything, it has made matters far worse.

New technology can often be a double-edged sword. While it offers multiple opportunities to the masses, it also opens doors to the less savoury characters in our societies too.

We hear too often about predators targeting and grooming kids online. But the internet has also increased the potential dangers for kids in other ways too. The biggest of these, and perhaps most well publicised, comes in the form of cyber bullying.

While children still have to contend with bullies at school, they are now faced with continued harassment at home,  by cowards who taunt and harass by keyboard.

Fortunately, however, we parents can do something about these threats. By using various forms of parental controls, in conjunction with some common sense, we can do much to protect our children when they are using the internet.

By following our tips for some of the more popular platforms your kids are likely to be using, you can increase their chances of staying safe and emotionally secure online.

Hopefully the short summaries above should allow parents to implement a degree of control that they are happy with over the devices their children are likely to be using.

Many of the parental controls will allow you to limit what your kids can do in terms of the amount of time they spend online and the types of web sites that they can visit. They will also prevent them from downloading content that could be inappropriate or potentially damaging to the device they are using.

But parental control doesn't stop with making a few changes to some settings on a computer, tablet or phone – responsible parents will monitor what their children do, either via software or by direct line of sight.

Parents should also talk to their children on a regular basis, highlighting the various potential dangers and pitfalls on the web, and keep an eye out for any signs that may suggest that their children are unhappy about something.

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11 Responses to Five minute fix: Keeping your kids safe online with parental controls

  1. JF Sauriol · 656 days ago

    Good Job guys! I've been doing Cyber-security and Cyber-bullying presentations for kids and parents in over 100 schools here in Ontario and Quebec in Canada. Technical controls are essentials but ensuring parents know what their kids are doing and are in fact involved with them in their on-line life is the only way to ensure kids will seek their advice when something goes wrong. Lack of dialogue between parents and kids about their on-line activities is our kids greatest vulnerability. I, in fact, use dozens of Naked Security stories in my kids and parents presentations. I'm a big fan!

  2. RobP · 654 days ago

    You write as if parental controls are a given, which in my view, they are not. I see them as potentially helpful, but not necessary. When my children were growing up, the parental control we used was talking to them, not using the machine to put arbitrary limits on what they could or could not do. As we are seeing in the UK, with the introduction of filters by BT, TalkTalk and others, the filters don't filter out all the wrong stuff and do filter out masses of things children sometimes need to see. Please don't just accept that parental controls are a must: discuss their limits as well as their potential.

  3. rob1parsons · 654 days ago

    PS everything that is wrong with parental controls is summed up by the fact that BT supplies a category of "sex education" sites that can be blocked with just one click: - scroll to the bottom of the list.

    • Having a separate option to block sex education beats blocking sex education automaticly as part of blocking porn.

  4. Hecate · 650 days ago

    Exactly. The only effective parental control is talking to your kids, and alerting them to the fact that they need to take care, not bringing them up in an ivory tower. Trust your kids if you want them to be trustworthy.

  5. I don't whant to split my children's world into black and white or just "allowed", "not allowed".

    I suppose, that some things CAN be done, but not during the whole day, so I prefer not to block, but to limit access to some sites and applications.

    I recommend everyone to chose some good parental control program,
    e.g. Time Boss Pro or Control Kids, or others...I don't use built-in control parent control in Windows - my son has administrator account...

    • I don't rely on software to control or supervise my kids. Even as a technology professional, I revert to the tried and tested method of "parenting" - where I can physically see the content on their screens, and turn it off when they break the rules or it's quitting time. :) He who holds the password, make the rules. ;)

  6. samairarogers · 594 days ago

    I do agree that parental control software is essential to keep an eye on kids but you shouldn't spy on them all the time. Having a healthy relationship with your child is far better than any software.

    • Deborah Bell · 76 days ago

      How do take parental controls off my tablet

    • Have kids with iPhones? MDM software is essential. If you think that "spying" on your kids is bad, then don't be surprised to learn that your 14 year old daughter is receiving and potentially sending inappropriate photos because she is afforded all the "privacy" she needs! I have seen it happen time and time again over the past 15 years from unassuming parents and otherwise good kids from all walks of life.

  7. Just like letting your kids play in a backyard next to an unfenced pool, parental supervision is paramount! So many parents let kids use laptops and tablets in the privacy of their bedrooms - which is an incredibly irresponsible thing to do! Visibility of the screen is essential at all times. I have 5 children ranging in age from 10 to 2. Each has their own laptop and tablet and they are all extremely proficient with their use. My eldest even knows how to check a site for potentially malicious content using VirusTotal, but none of them are ever out of sight of either me, my wife, or the other kids. There are no excuses!

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About the author

Lee Munson is the founder of Security FAQs, a social media manager with BH Consulting and a blogger with a huge passion for information security.