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Following hot on the heels of our recent Safer Internet Day blog post, we’re taking a look at some of the resources available for parents to make sure that their children are safe when using the internet.  Whether it’s researching for homework/school projects, finding out about their interests and hobbies or interacting with friends, parents need to ensure that kids aren’t accessing sites that are inappropriate.   With so many kids participating in social media these days it’s also essential to make sure that they are not sharing personal information with people that they meet online.

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Parents and carers can play a key role in teaching children about how to stay safe online and should be the first people the kids turn to when things go wrong.  However, the kids may be more tech savvy than we are in some ways, so here are some tools that you can use to ensure that your children are safe.

1 PARENTAL CONTROLS

There are four main internet providers in the UK (TalkTalk, BT, Sky and Virgin Media) and they all provide free parental controls that you can activate at any time.  For further information on how to set up parental controls with your ISP, click on the appropriate name below:

TalkTalkBT
SkyVirgin Media

However, you do need to remember that no parental control tool is 100% effective and some children will be dab hands at finding ways around the filters.  It’s essential that you talk to your children about how to stay safe online and let them know that if they have any worries or get into trouble that they can turn to you immediately without getting into trouble or you getting angry at them.

2 FACEBOOK CHECKLIST

Okay, we’re all aware that you need to be over the age of 13 to sign up for a Facebook account.  However, so many kids under that age are on Facebook nowadays that your children will probably feel like freaks if they’re not allowed to use it when all their friends do.  If your children are using Facebook, then there’s a handy Facebook Checklist that you can use to ensure that you are in control of what you share and how your profile appears to others.  Go through the checklist with your children, explaining to them why they need to stay in control of their privacy and their profile.  This is a great opportunity to discuss online safety with them as you go through the checklist together.

3 GOOGLE AND BING SAFE SEARCH SETTINGS

The Google and Bing search engines both offer Safe Search settings that are designed to screen websites that contain sexually explicit content and remove them from the results.  Google’s default mode is Moderate Safe Search and this can be locked and password protected so that the kids can’t alter your settings.  Go to Google’s Search Settings page and check the box to “filter explicit results” – then use the option to lock SafeSearch with a password.  If your family uses Bing, go to the Bing Preferences page, choose whether to use Moderate or Strict SafeSearch and then click on the Save button (top right hand corner).

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