Born as an initiative of the EU SafeBorders project in 2004, today’s Safer Internet Day (opens in new tab) has become a landmark event in digital safety.
Its mission? Promoting ways to safely browse the web – like the use of security software like VPN services, for example – while raising awareness around the biggest threats people face online.
In this year’s edition, organizers wanted to explore the issues affecting children’s and teens’ online lives to make a positive change in this direction.
“The internet can be a dangerous place for anyone but especially children, who are more vulnerable and impressionable,” said Evan Smith, Technical Manager for one of the best proxy providers around, Proxyrack. “The dangers can vary from misinformation, graphic content and communication with strangers, therefore knowing how best to approach the topic of safety is crucial.”
Keep reading as he shares with us some tips to assist parents and educators to secure their kids against the risks of the digital world.
✅ What is #SaferInternetDay?✅ What does it stand for?✅ How can we all play our part for a better internet?Find answers to all your questions about #SID2023 at https://t.co/4uJi0OixGQ. This year is extra special, as we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary! pic.twitter.com/M5JvNfXl1sFebruary 6, 2023
1. Limit kid’s online time
Despite a huge portion of many adults’ lives being lived online, it’s important for kids to keep digital activities to a minimum. As Smith explained to us: “By only allowing them an hour or two a day you can help reduce any risks of sleep deprivation or behavioral issues formed through reliance on technology and devices.”
Security software can also be of help here. For example, ExpressVPN offers its own router called Aircove, which allows parents to limit connectivity for certain devices thanks to its Group Device feature.
Some devices may also offer restrictions or time limits in their settings. For example, both iPhones and Android devices offer a feature that limits use after a certain time, so making the effort to set these up is well worth it.
2. Set clear rules
Similarly as above, experts recommend setting boundaries on both devices and screen time.
That might be beneficial for several reasons. Firstly, the risk for your child to face online dangers will be reduced. Kids will also learn the importance of sharing devices with others. The latter point is especially relevant if they are using family iPads, laptops or smartphones.
3. Switch on parental and privacy controls
Parental and privacy controls are vital for protecting children’s online life. As Smith said, these are especially important as they can “help you feel more comfortable about what it is your children are able to access online.”
Such controls allow you to restrict access to adult content, for example. They also protect your children from dangerous sites and videos through both search engine searches and social media platforms.
So, make sure to keep your settings updated at all times. Again, security software can be handy here. Security suites offered by the best antivirus or VPN providers, for example, all come with a range of parental controls for giving you even more control over your child’s internet usage.
4. Keep an open dialogue around online safety
Maintaining open conversations around online dangers might be the most effective way of ensuring kids’ online safety, experts suggest.
“You want to avoid any secrecy and build a trust that will ensure they come to you with any worries they might have,” Smith said.
This will then reduce the chances for children hiding issues they face when online. It can also help parents and teachers to adapt their strategies for the best results.
5. Keep track on their online friends
Last but not least, make sure you know who they’re talking to online at all times.
Younger generations are increasingly engaging on social media, from an earlier age. These platforms are full of people looking to take advantage of such vulnerable users.
While it is crucial to discuss the dangers of talking with strangers even though it’s just online, you should also keep track of their online conversation and ensure they know how to report any issues when necessary.