When we visit primary schools throughout Ireland to talk to children about staying safe online, we hear from them that they are using a range of devices to access the internet. Research from our recent Zeeko All Ireland Digital Trend Report found that 67% of third class pupils and 62% of fourth class pupils used a Tablet to access the internet. We found that 46% of second class and 50% of fourth class pupils had used a game console to access the internet.
Given the wide range of devices that children can now access the internet on, it can be a challenge to know how best to keep your digital devices protected. Here are our Top Tips for keeping your digital devices safe.
Ensure that you use safety settings: When we speak to parents at our seminars about safety settings, one of the main points we make is that while they are an excellent tool to have in place, they are by no means a substitute for education and conversation. There is no safety setting or safety software that we have come across which is 100% effective. They are there to complement what you teach your child about Internet safety, and to reduce the risk of serious harm. We like to think of them as online training wheels; while they will not prevent a fall, they will reduce the risk of a fall substantially and improve the chance of staying upright dramatically. Don’t forget to use safety setting across all of your digital devices and not just one.
Research the safety options with your Internet provider: The company who you use to provide your internet connection may well have additional options for internet safety. They may be unaware of your needs as a family so it is certainly worth contacting them to ask what safety options they have available for families with multiple digital devices.
Regularly update your passwords: For convenience, we all tend to use the same password across numerous devices. It is a good idea, particularly for protecting a family, that you change your passwords regularly. This decreases the chances of your child discovering or figuring out the password. It also improves overall online safety for everyone.
Remember that every device operates slightly differently: This may sound obvious but where online safety is concerned it is very important. Not only can devices differ but there can be differences between different versions of the same device. Familiarising yourself with your own mobile device and running regular software updates is another way to increase protection.
Have separate accounts for children: Children should have separate accounts on digital devices where possible, to enable you to have safety settings in place without restricting your own usage or compromising your files or data. For younger children you should know what passwords they are using. For older children it is a good idea to encourage them to share passwords as a way for you to ensure that they staying safe online.
Ultimately, safety settings are no substitute for education and talking regularly with your child about their online experiences.
The Zeeko Internet Safety Guide offers more detailed advice on making your digital devices safer and other advice on keeping your child safe online. You can buy a copy of the book here.