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Nine ideas for keeping your child safe on the internet

The internet is marvellous! It brings so many advantages like real-time communication with a friend 1000 miles away, or cloud-based storage. But this amazing tool and resource can also be cause for concern.

coding courses londonThe ‘World Wide Web’ is a planet of its own that has existed – in a formal sense – for under 30 years. Because of its short evolution hidden dangers arise, so imagining real world situations can help when deciding how to approach e-safety. For example, would you:

      Leave your child alone in the park to enjoy themselves?
      Drop them at Oxford Street Station and let them make their way to an unknown destination?
–       Want your child to talk to a stranger on the street without your presence?

Fire Tech seeks to positively engage with the internet to enhance learning. Light restrictions enable children to take advantage of this wonderful resource, but we also feel it’s important that clear boundaries are set.

Restrictions are necessary to protect children from two dangers: harmful content – grooming, pornography, extremism; and technical intrusions – viruses, malware, phishing. As parents the content your child has access to is your decision. And with this comes a responsibility to educate yourself about ways to implement it.

There is plenty of information online about e-safety and the amount continues to grow. But to get you started, here’s top picks. 

To guard against harmful content you can:

  1. Use parental controls. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as BT and Sky offer free filters that are easy to set up.
  2. Optimise search engine security – here there is another level of security. Browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer allow parents to block certain sites by topic. If this is not versatile then install a browser extension that blocks specific content.
  3. Check your mobile phone account. Restricting 18+ content is now standard on mobile devices in accordance with the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). It might be worth checking via your online mobile account if this has been implemented.
  4. Edit viewing preferences. Services such as iPlayer, Netflix, and YouTube have options to control who sees what.
  5. Beware the curious you. As an adult it is easy to click-through links that capture your attention. This journey may end with undesired content. Children are susceptible to similar temptation. Talk about appropriate internet behaviour as you might do for other public behaviour.
  6. Communicate. This is key in helping children understand the range of content contained on the web.
  7. For appropriate content use long sentences as passwords. For kids they are easy to remember. For others they are harder to crack.
  8. Install an antivirus software such as McAfee or Norton.
  9. Do not open emails if you don’t KNOW who the sender is

This is by no means an exhaustive list. But, by raising these simple ideas, it suggests that the World Wide Web is still a foreign planet for some of us. These ideas may have got you thinking, and it is this awareness that is a healthy first step towards keeping your child safe on the internet. 

Fire Tech has delivered over 7,000 tech courses to young people. We encourage kids and teens to get hands-on with tech, by breaking-down and building-up the latest technologies. Our courses are delivered in small class sizes by instructors from some of the UK’s leading universities such as Imperial College and Cambridge. We offer a range of courses in coding, robotics and the digital arts during the school holidays, weekends and during term time. Visit www.FireTechCamp.com for more details. Scholarships available.  

Author: Will Edwards

Will is the marketing assistant at Fire Tech. He is also a professional musician and climber.