Do YOU know what your kids are doing online? 1 in 5 parents don’t.

Internet safety for kids. I know, I might bang on about it a bit, but honestly – I’m endlessly surprised at how many of my kids friends’ parents seem to have  little-to-no control over their kids activities on the Internet. Or they go the other way, and out of abject fear of the internet boogie man they lock them down entirely.

Like it or not, the internet is as much a part of our kids lives as going to the park was for us. They’re indigenous natives to this new digital world, and we can neither keep them away from it, nor let them loose within it; our task is to teach them to navigate safely through it. Just as much as it is for us to teach them how to cross the road, or wipe their own bottoms (ye gods, they take a LONG tome to learn to wipe their own, right??).

Keeping them away from The Bad Internets is simple when they’re little – choosing a few good things for them to watch, often linked ot their favourite TV shows, means you’re safe in the knowledge that they can come to no harm and are only using The Good Stuff, But as they grow, it gets more tricky.
They want to try Minecraft and Roblox. Animal Jam. They want to watch the YouTubers their friends are all talking about – and actually they want to use YouTube for learning, to track down tutorials on how to do tricky stuff that honestly baffles my brain.

But of course, you can’t just let them loose – that’s like letting them play on the side of the motorway. With no parental controls set up, it is WAY too easy to (accidentally more often than not) stumble into places on the internet that no child ever ought to go (frankly I don’t want to go there myself). It’s rarely about searching the scary stuff out – the trouble is it’s never more than a few careless clicks away.

And then of course there’s the social side – my kids all have friends scattered across the UK (and the older ones across the globe – as do I myself). Chatting and gaming together is an amazing thing – but without rules in place, and an understanding of what the risks are, innocent intentions can easily go wrong. A 10 yr old looking to play with a like-minded child can’t always guarantee who it is on the other side of the screen – they have a natural trust  of those they play with, just as they do in a playground.

But basic ground rules keep them pretty safe, and along with parental monitoring relevant to their age (I don’t watch my 15yr old’s conversations the way I watch my 9yr olds…) plus good open communication with their parents, most kids are fine.

In a recent European study* of 5,040 children aged 10-15 conducted by global cyber security company, Kaspersky, discovered some alarming stats about how children are using the internet, and how they may not be protecting themselves as they should.

  • One in five children admitted their parents set no rules about how they used the internet at home and two-thirds of the respondents said they would know how to hide something from their parents that they were looking at online.

One in FIVE have no parental controls. No set rules, no understanding of what’s safe to share online – and two thirds are confident in hiding what they’re doing from their parents.

Worrying, isn’t it? Are you one of those parents? See I think a lot of it comes from the fact that parents aren’t confident themselves, so really have no idea how to set up controls or watch what their children are doing. But that’s simply no excuse, not when it’s so darn easy these days to stay in charge. But the first step for me is parental controls – and don’t forget they need to be on everything. It’s no good being on the PC if they’re not on their phone, tablet or iPod. And if the family all use one PC it’s really easy to set up different log ins for everyone, with different parental controls on each profile. Which means you can do more than watch CBeebies on your evening browsing, while your toddler can’t go on a mad Candy Crush spending spree.

For example, we love Kaspersky Safe Kids – it’s a downloadable app for iPhones, iPads, Macs and Computers. Installation is a breeze, and it’s a lot more than a simple internet blocker. Of course you can use it to ensure your child can only access the types of website, content & apps you decide are appropriate. But you can also monitor incoming and outgoing calls & texts, and public Facebook activities. Plus it shows you your child’s location – on a real-time map; define a safe area, and you’ll automatically receive an alert on your mobile phone if they wander outside of it.

And at just £10.99 for a year’s subscription, it’s a small investment in a massively important area of your child’s life. For more info, head over to Kaspersky Safe Kids and have a look around. And please, if you ARE one of those 1 in 5 parents – do try and do something to help your child stay safe. Feel free to ask questions in the comments below if you have queries or concerns – I’m pretty good at this myself, and have a network of experts at my fingertips to help if I don’t know the answer!

Author: Laura

A 70's child, I’ve been married for a Very Long Time, and appear to have made four children, and collected one large and useless dog along the way. I work, I have four children, I have a dog… ergo, I do not do dusting or ironing. I began LittleStuff back in (gulp) 2004. I like huge mugs of tea. And Coffee. And Cake. And a steaming cone of crispy fresh fluffy chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. #healthyeater When I grow up I am going to be quietly graceful, organised and wear lipstick every day. In the meantime I *may* have a slight butterfly-brain issue.

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