When I think back to school I can remember weekly computer lessons in a big room filled with monstrous great machines that whirred and whined; now Arthur is using a touch screen at nursery. My parents never thought about what I was looking and could never imagine what the birth of the internet meant for their grandchildren.
With the freedom of a digital age comes a new kind of parenting – how do we keep our children safe when using the internet and how do we make sure our wallets and identities stay safe when one touch can access so much?
Arthur is only two-and-a-half but already an expert on the iPad using it to watch his favourite programmes, play a few games and do puzzles. I’m really aware of how much time he spends on there and because he’s so young it’s very limited. I make sure I’m in the room with him, interacting with the game as well. I also have an age setting on iTunes. I’ve already seen how easy it is for him to find himself on a screen asking whether he wants to buy a new app. Luckily I caught it in time and got rid of the app too – but it’s so easy to see how parents end up with bills for hundreds of pounds in a matter of moments.
I also have a password so he can’t just grab the iPad and start playing – I have to know about it. As he gets older I’ll also be thinking about how to keep him safe from online pornography, predators and the sadly all too common online bullying.
I want Arthur to enjoy social media, to make the most of what’s on offer and to be confident as a user so for me it’s important to talk to him. To make sure he understands the perils and, as far as is possible, that he comes to me when there’s a problem. There’s loads of information on how to keep your children safe on PC Adviser with some great practical tips if your children are older and ways to block websites and set-up passwords too.
For most people internet software to protect you and your pc is a necessity and it’s something I make sure we have and update regularly. It’s quite frightening how often it pops up and says a bug has been found and dealt with – without it who knows what would have happened. Take a look at this article in the Daily Mail, it makes quite worrying reading. I know Arthur is still so young but I’d hate to think he saw something pornographic or frightening.
From reading the article you’ll see that Norton Family was actually voted as the best filter blocking most of the indecent content thrown at it and is recommended for families with young children. The basic version from Norton is free to download and has some great features. You can check how long your child is spending on the internet, stop them sharing personal information and monitor what sites they’re visiting.
If you’ve got older children you might want to check out the premier version which allows you to monitor the videos your children watch on sites like YouTube, you can also see what apps they’re uploading on their android phones. I wish the basic version allowed me to see snippets of video Arthur had clicked on, he’s so young and a clumsy or over-enthusiastic click could take him somewhere unsavoury.
As he grows and I become more aware of what he’s looking at I’ll make sure we’re protected and that he knows the internet is a fantastic tool to be embraced with cautious optimism.