Broadband - How to Keep your Children Safe Online

By: Nick C

According to an official survey 42% of households in the EU now have a broadband connection; this is a 12% increase from the following year

With an ever increasing amount of broadband connections available more children than ever have access to the internet. Are enough precautions being taken to ensure their safety?

Research has revealed that children as young as three are spending on average two and a half hours per week surfing the internet outside of school hours. Worryingly, what the research has also highlighted is that almost half of parents are failing to sufficiently monitor the websites that their children view.

A study conducted by the price comparison site, Moneysupermarket.com, reveals that as the children get older, the amount of time spent online increases. Children aged from seven to nine spend, on average, one and three quarter hours per week online outside school, compared to four and a quarter hours spent online by those aged between 13 and 15.

As a child gets older, it becomes progressively more difficult for a parent to know what that child is doing every minute of the day. When they reach their early teenage years, they begin to break away and demand more independence and privacy; this can make it especially difficult for parents to adequately check what they are getting up to online.

Children who are approaching teenage years are probably more computer literate than their parents realise. Despite this, their social naivete can leave them susceptible to manipulation from undesirable characters of all kinds.

It's no exaggeration to say that the internet is possibly the most powerful educational tool that you are ever likely to possess in your home. If your child is taught to use it in an appropriate manner then it can be hugely beneficial to their education. But, if left to their own devices, an internet connection can potentially be quite a damaging influence up a young mind.

Supervision, common sense and some handy software applications should be all that is needed to ensure that your child stays safe.

What can be done?
&bullConsider the location of your PC. A young child with a broadband internet connection in their bedroom is not ideal, so make sure the PC is located where the child will not be left on their own.

&bullDiscourage the child away from using internet chat rooms or supervise them closely when they do use them. Make sure they don't share any personal information, like email addresses etc.

&bullUse a web browser like Mozilla Firefox which has an excellent built in pop-up blocker.

&bullThere are a number of search engines available that are designed especially for children. They filter out all sites considered to be unsuitable. Encourage them to use these when searching the internet. Child friendly search engines include: Ask Jeeves for Kids - www.ajkids.com & Yahooligans - www.yahooligans.com.

Alternatively, you can use the filter options that are available on the search engine that you are currently using.

&bullFor more control over content then software such as Net Nanny or Cyber Control should be considered. These products provide a wide variety of parental controls that help ensure a safe internet environment for kids.

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