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12 tips: How to protect your child on the internet

Anyone with young children knows that it is next to impossible to prevent them from using the internet. As parents, however, we cannot stand and look over our shoulder all the time, but we have to find other ways to protect them from certain content on the internet.

Here is a guide for stressed parents to help you deal with surfing children.

  1. Educate the child about the dangers of the Internet. It’s not all games and chat, but there are also things to watch out for. Make it clear to the child that everything that is said and done on the Internet can easily be seen by everyone. The old admonition “don’t talk to strangers” is more important than ever on the internet.
  2. Teach children the importance of never giving out personal information. For example, never publish pictures that show where they live or what school they go to. Also, they should never give out addresses or phone numbers to anyone other than their closest circle of friends.
  3. Teach the child net etiquette and how they should behave on the internet. Saying things behind a keyboard should be compared to talking to someone in person. It’s all too easy for kids to think it’s ok to say things on the internet that they wouldn’t in the presence of a certain person.
  4. Respect the child’s privacy online, but make it clear to them that you can find out what they are doing if you feel there is reason to do so.
  5. Draw up a simple contract that your child must sign. The contract should briefly describe which activities are accepted and which are not. You can find an example of what such a contract might look like here.

Technical aids

There are also a number of programs that prevent certain types of websites from being visited by your child. In Windows, there are certain settings you can make to limit internet usage. Microsoft also has a guide here that shows you how to do it.

However, Windows’ built-in parental controls are very limited and are quite cumbersome to configure and keep track of. Instead, there are programs that are specially designed to protect children on the internet, such as Net Nanny.

Net Nanny has won many tests and is considered one of the best programs for this purpose. Unfortunately, it is not free and the program is in English. However, your child never needs to use it, but you as a parent install it and then it stays in the background watching over which activities take place.

Net Nanny costs SEK 275 per year as it requires a subscription to keep the program updated.

Educate yourself

For many parents, it can feel frustrating that their children know more about the internet and computers than they do. This is completely normal and not so surprising considering how fast technology is developing.
However, there are both websites and books that will help you manage children on the Internet.

  • The site mjojvara.se has written a good guide on how you can set limits yourself in Windows XP and Vista.
  • Per Hellqvist at the security company Symantec has together with Dag Öhrlund written the book Protect your child on the internet. A simple and easy-to-read book that provides good help to confused parents.
  • BRIS has created a very good and informative website that informs parents about both the internet, mobile phones, games and other things that concern children.

Also read PC for Everyone’s guide: How to easily check what your teenager is doing online

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