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As Mr Z is getting older and starting to get more interested in using the computer, we have to start thinking about the potential dangers online and how to make sure that he and the younger children remain safe when using the internet. At the moment it’s not too big a problem as he is supervised with his internet usage and he tends to play more games than interacting with others on any social sites. However we can’t afford to get complacent as they soon start branching out a little more the older they get. Mr Z already asked me for a Facebook account as he wanted to get extra lives sent to him for Candy Crush! Of course I said no, as he is too young.

Once a child has learned to read and write, they could easily type in any word and happen across any website or questionable content on Google, perhaps even by mistake when they misspell something or don’t know what they typed! We all know children can be tempted to write silly things, and young ones will not realise the consequences of doing this. I have heard of children doing things like writing “bum” in google as a joke and they end up with some really inappropriate results!!

It’s useful to know how to block unwanted websites and tighten up your security settings, and I found a few tips here in this article from PC Advisor.

For now my rules with the internet are that Mr Z should be sticking to a couple of well known and trusted sites, such as Cbeebies or Reading Eggs. I also let the children use Youtube but keep an eye on the videos that they are watching. I have found that sometimes even from innocent Thomas the Tank Engine videos, they could end up on some silly spoof versions of Thomas with swearing in it or inappropriate content, as this will come up as a related video! Making a play list for the children rather than just letting them browse is a simple way around this kind of problem.

It’s worrying to see that 80% of parental controls don’t actually block out all porn and indecent content. It would be awful to think that you have safeguarded your computer, and then find out that actually it wasn’t effective! Norton Family was voted one of the best softwares as it was one of the few that actually blocked 100% of the 150 porn sites used for testing, with some competitors scoring as low as 66%! Norton Family was described as “… an impressive standalone parental control system.” by Neil J. Rubenking in the PCMag review. Luckily for us, it is also available on Mac as well as Windows PC so we may well look into getting it. Porn is not the only category to think about, as there are also gambling, gore, pro-anorexia or hate sites which the software will block.

Norton Family is totally free, although you can get a Premium version with extra features that allow you to monitor more closelythings like the videos your child watches only or to monitor the apps downloaded onto their phones. It also saves the records for much longer – 90 days compared to 7 days on the free version. The premium version sounds like it may be more necessary with older children, as they would be using the internet even more and may be more tempted to watch inappropriate content eg if their friends shared some dodgy videos over Facebook! I hate to think of all these things to come, but you must be prepared!

What are your thoughts about keeping kids safe online? Please share them with me in the comments!

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