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Digital education: how to protect your children online

Many parents are tempted to keep check on their children’s online activities, but if you are caught out it can lead to friction and arguments.

While meddling will do nothing to help you develop mutual trust in your relationship with your children, one positive step that you can take is to teach them how to be savvy users of the web and tell them all about its dangers and perils.

The children of today are considered digital natives because they were born in the era of digital technology. It is only natural for them to venture online at an early age and become more “webwise” than their parents. Therefore, right from the start it is important to establish ground rules for online activities and teach them about online safety, security and personal data management.

While your children are still little and unlikely to care about you interfering, you can set parental controls to prevent content that is unsuitable for minors appearing in searches. Parental controls may not always be able to block all unsuitable materials, but they are available on almost all devices.

In addition, you could install protection systems such as Kaspersky Safe Kids, which keeps children away from undesirable content, enables safe browsing and sends notifications to parents, while also preventing online purchases. However, it is only suitable until children get older and wiser because an icon gives away the fact that the application is in operation. Other services that can selectively block inappropriate contacts, apps and websites include Qustodio, Net Nanny and Mobile Guardian, while mSpy logs messages so that you can check them later.

The main danger when chatting online is that you never know who you are really dealing with and what their intentions might be. There are no set rules for unmasking imposters. The best approach is to educate children and encourage them to learn from those with more experience, i.e. their parents.

As they get older, your children will want to use Google and social networks by themselves. Consequently, it is essential to explain what cyber bullying is and the potential consequences of sharing personal information and photos on the web. In addition, you should teach them about respect for other people both online and offline, and the importance of real-life relationships and conversations. As always, communication is the key.