Advice on internet safety for parents
I like to think I’m pretty savvy when it comes to technology but I know my knowledge is nothing compared to a teenager’s. It’s scary some times! But something I know I am more aware of are the potential risks associated with the latest gadgets.
From finding inappropriate content to running up large bills downloading the latest app, kids could find things spiral out of control if parameters aren’t set. And then there are other worrying stories you hear about, such as cyber bullying. Manufacturers are fully aware of parents’ concerns and include safeguards in their products but we might not always be aware of what we can do
At John Lewis, all our in-store Partners are trained on how to manage parental controls, not only by the makers of the products we sell but also on the various operating systems you use. So if you’re not too hot on today’s tech we can advise you.
We also sell a few products that’ll help all the family surf the net safely. I really like the Kurio. Loved by kids and trusted by parents, the Kurio is an Android device which is loaded with some of the most popular apps, games and videos, as well as educational content. Wi-fi enabled, with an integrated camera, it’s easy to set different profiles according to age. If security is an important concern - and it always should be - ensure you install good security software. Norton includes Norton™ Family, which helps protect your kids when they go online with their PCs or Android mobile devices; while McAfee offers Parental Controls that let you manage your children’s online usage.
Parental controls are also on most gadgets. If you’ve a Smart TV, you can use the integrated parental lock function to block certain apps or TV programmes by using a 4-digit PIN codes. Tablets have become the gadget to have, and again there are options you can activate. Microsoft Windows 8 Surface tablets let you keep track of when and how your kids use the device, while on the iPad, a 4-digit PIN lets you do the same - and restrict which apps they can download. If there’s a laptop the whole family uses, you can set your children up as a managed account. With an Apple device you can limit access, approve email exchanges and even set time restrictions, while with Windows, Family Safety lets you manage settings for every family member.
You might not have time to have fun on the Xbox or Wii but do make time to register your children online, so you can limit which age restricted games they can play -and for how long. Most games consoles have wi-fi connections, so they can play online but make sure they only compete with people they know.
Of course, no kid is going to be without their phone. Do they ever switch if off?! When you finally accede to letting them have a Smartphone, make them aware about the contract’s data allowance - it’ll cost you if they exceed it. And if they’re using your home wireless broadband, talk to your service provider about filtering the internet.
If you want more advice on internet safety visit our guide. It’s never easy striking a balance between respecting children’s privacy and ensuring they’re using technology sensibly. The most important thing, however, is to have an open and honest talk with them about what is appropriate. And have a go yourself: sign up to Facebook, play on the Wii, and download an app. It’s great!