How to keep your children safe online

The Internet or “Wild Wild Web” is a very fascinating world for both adults and children. This is because of everything that can be found and done, from research for school and work assignments to social media to emails and other activities such as online games and media streaming.

However, for children and teenagers, as much as it is an exciting realm to be in, the Internet can also be a dangerous and risky place. This is because there are so many hazards lurking from pornography and violence to paedophiles.

Imagine this scenario: your child wants to find out more about Legos, so s/he goes onto a search engine (e.g. Google, Bing and Yahoo!) and types in “Legs” instead in error. A very simple typo error can cause so much damage. Can you imagine what kind of results the search engine will return?  The child may be directed to a slew of websites with a focus on legs — some of which may contain pornographic material.

So how do you prevent or minimise such incidents from happening?

Here are a few ways that you can consider:

  • Web filtering — A web filter is a programme that can screen an incoming Web page to determine whether some or all of it should not be displayed to the child. The filter checks the origin or content of a Web page against a set of rules that you will have set up (like a blacklist of websites and certain key words and phrases). An example is Google Safe Search.
  • Keep computers in a central place. This will make it easier to monitor your children’s activities.
  • Know where your children go online. It is a good idea to use the Internet together with your younger children. As for older children ensure you talk to them about what kind of websites they can and cannot visit. You can verify by looking at the history in your browser menu.
  • Teach Internet safety. It is not always possible to monitor your child’s online activity. So you will need to make sure that you teach them about playing safe on the Internet.
  • Use privacy settings and sharing controls. Many sites that feature user-generated content, including YouTube, Blogger and social networking sites have sharing controls that put users in charge of who sees personal blogs, photos, videos and profiles.

Using sharing controls is particularly important when you or your children share personal information such as names, addresses or phone numbers on public sites. Teach your children to respect the privacy of friends and family by not identifying people by name in public profiles and pictures.

  • Protect passwords. Constantly remind your children not to give out their passwords. Make sure they make a habit of unclicking “remember me” settings when they use public computers such as those at school or in Internet cafes.
  • Beware of strangers. Teach your children not to arrange in-person meetings with people they “meet” online, and not to share personal information with online strangers.

Playing an active role in your children’s Internet activities ensure that the risk of placing themselves in danger or accessing inappropriate content is lowered.

Gadget of the week
MEEP! X2
MEEP! X2 is a children-centric tablet, designed and developed specifically for children and those young at heart. The X2 has a 7-inch display, front and rear cameras, Android 4,2 (with a custom skin, of course), Bluetooth 4,0, 4GB of internal storage and an undisclosed 1,2GHz, dual-core CPU alongside 1GB of RAM.

The tablet comes preloaded with software such as apps, e-books, games and music. It is suitable for ages six and up, and parents are able to monitor and limit web access via an online control panel.

App of the week

Candy Crush Saga
Hailed as ‘the sweetest game’, Candy Crush Saga invites you to an exciting journey through the world of candy. As with any game of its genre, you match like sweets in a line of three or more to gain points and bonuses.The more sweets you match with each move the more points you collect and faster you progress. It requires a degree of logic that keeps you entertained through Candy Crush’s more than 100 levels.

The secret of Candy Crush’s appeal is in its novel monetization system which allows players to start playing the game for free, trip up on challenging levels, and then either waits to resume playing, or pay to continue. You can also send out requests for extra lives to your Facebook friends.

Did you know?

Online games actually began during the 1960’s when there was still ARPANET, the grandfather of Internet. The first online game was the famous Space War hosted by PLATO services with an estimated 1000 users playing simultaneously.

People and Tech

Closer to home, we are going to feature Anne Githuku-Shongwe from South Africa.

Anne is the Founder and CEO of Afroes Transformational Multi-Media & Consulting. Anne is committed to Africa’s agenda for transformation in partnership with Africa’s citizens and global partners. She has a proven track record in providing innovative strategy and policy solutions to countries, including high-level advisory services to Governments and their Cabinets.

Anne was acknowledged by the Schwab Foundation as one of twenty-four Social Entrepreneurs of the Year 2013. The winners were selected in recognition of their innovative approaches and potential for global impact.

Afroes develops mobile phone games which include Champchase, Moraba and Haki 1: Shield and defend that engage and inspire social action among young people across South Africa and Kenya.