Without the structure of the school day many children gravitate towards the internet. It’s a fun place to be, kids can ‘hang out’ with their friends, play game, watch videos and so on. And during the summer holidays, and with a lot of time of their hands, it’s a natural thing for them to do.

Managing the kids online activities during this time can be tricky for parents and carers and more so if they are working from home, or elsewhere. We’re not going to suggest how parents handle this, because each situation is unique and they will know best.

It’s easy to say provide the opportunity for alternative activities but if you’re a single parent and working this isn’t so easy. Or perhaps both parents are working and there’s isn’t an extended family to look after them. It can be tricky.

However, what we will say is that it is relatively easy to protect kids when they are online by taking a few simple steps.

Parental controls

Parental controls can be very useful. You can remotely monitor, and step in if necessary, your child’s activities when they are online. If you’re working from home for instance, you can simply access the parental control’s browser.

You can set limits for the amount of time they spend online so internet access is automatically blocked when the time limit is reached.

You can set restrictions on the applications and websites they use so they don’t stumble across malicious or inappropriate content.

Of course parental controls aren’t a magic panacea for all online ills they may encounter but they are certainly a useful tool in protecting them from being exposed to content which can be damaging and harmful.

Antivirus

You’re probably already running antivirus software but if you’re not it help you defend against viruses that hide in websites your children may visit. This is a fairly common method attackers use to spread malware such as spyware and Trojans that gobble up private information by recording key strokes and sending the information to a server controlled by hackers.

Antivirus is also important to stop ransomware. This most pernicious of threats has been making something a comeback during the pandemic driven lockdowns. That said, most of the targets have been companies and organisations, but given its deadly impact it’s not something you want to take chances with.

These two steps alone offer significant and important protection. Parental controls are often bundled with antivirus software making it easy to adopt both steps; the only question is which software should you use?

It would be remiss of us if we didn’t mention BullGuard Premium Protection. It provides robust and easy-to-use parental controls and also includes all-important identity protection so the adult can safeguard their sensitive information such as payment card numbers.

Alongside this is stand-out antivirus protection which is so good it has won numerous awards and regularly takes top ranking in independent tests. Importantly today, it also includes advanced dynamic machine learning which detects and blocks newly emerging malware which hasn’t yet been detected.

Educating the kids

One of the under-the-radar benefits of school curriculums today is the emphasis on teaching kids about online dangers, strangers and bullies. This starts at an early stage, usually the first year of primary education and extends into secondary education. And schools are generally super strict about online bullying among their students. This grounds the children with a good general awareness about online dangers.

However, it does no harm for parents and carers to reinforce these messages and especially as they get older and naturally move towards independence.

But one of the problems is that the online world is as natural to children as is teaching to teachers. This can result in blind spots when it comes to awareness of the dangers and this is where parents and carers can interject.

First of all, and as you surely know, kids need room to learn and grow so attempts to control that are too harsh or oppressive will likely make them more rebellious. It’s a simple psychological dynamic if something is repressed; it will pop up in some form but possibly in an unhealthy destructive way.

The best way to harness children’s natural curiosity is to acknowledge it and then leverage your knowledge, experience and understanding to keep them straight.

For instance:
  • Children need to know that some people are not who say they are online. They should be cautious and never give out any personal information such as their age and where they live, login information or whether parents/carers are at home.
  • Chat rooms and private messaging forums, such as those used multiplayer online games, can be a port of call for cyber miscreants. They can hide behind online profiles in the games to trick children into giving out personal details, which as surely you know can lead to identity theft and ultimately fraud.
  • Children also need to understand that anything they say, show, or share on the internet can stay there for all time. If a picture, message, or other data is sent to someone that person may have a way of saving it or store it forgetfully on a device or some online service where it could remain for who knows how long.