12 online safety tips for parents

17 May 2016

Allowing your children the full freedom of the internet can be a worrying prospect, so Eset is on hand with some tips of the trade.

Eset has provided us with security tips in the past, notably for those who get involved in a bit of festive internet shopping, and it has always been sensible, reasoned advice.

However, we’ve never really looked at the trials and tribulations of having children who are online, often constantly browsing the net.

Breaking its advice down for different age groups, the general feeling is for parents to be as aware as possible of their children’s online life at a young age, releasing them bit by bit into the web as they learn the ropes – the bullet points are tips directly from Eset Ireland.

Eset Ireland’s top tips for under-5s online

Clearly, early learning is key, with formative childhood years shaping much of what teenagers, and then adults, understand in later life. With technology being introduced into children’s lives at a young age (“as young as three,” claims Eset Ireland) it’s never too early to be prepared.

  • You need to ensure that your own devices are password-protected, so that your youngsters can’t accidentally go online when you’re out of sight
  • This is as good a time as any to invest in parental control software – this powerful technology is a real asset when it comes to safety (suitable up to the age of 14)
  • Start talking about online safety and set boundaries. For example, set limits to device usage and stress the importance of not talking to strangers online, the same as in real life.

Tips for 5-9-year-olds

As children become more comfortable with technology, their website preferences change too. However, age-appropriateness is still relevant.

  • Continue with the previous tips, adjusting, for example, some of the settings on your parental control app
  • Ensure that your children are accessing age-appropriate content (films, video games and apps)
  • If your children have their own device, ensure that there are limits to what can be done/accessed.

Tips for 10-12 age group

We’re now into technology native regions, with children having spent many years learning how devices work and a basic understanding of the internet, all the while getting ready to hone their tech skills.

According to Eset, it’s also the age group where children will start to “really question and query things, where there is a desire to take ownership and responsibility over their devices and what they view online.”

  • Reinforce why you limit usage and why you have restrictions in place – it’s not about control, but about safety and what you deem appropriate for their age
  • Shift the focus of your conversation with your children to topics such as privacy and cybercrime. Your kids are among the most vulnerable groups online
  • Reiterate the importance of security – from passphrases to two-factor authentication and encryption, there’s plenty of ways of staying protected.

Tips for 13-16 age group

The teenage years bring about marked differences in where children go online, with social media becoming mainstream.

  • Again, your ongoing conversation with your kids will need to change and take on more adult topics – things to bring up at this age are cyberbullying, sexting and the threat of online predators
  • As you may have done with other things, like buying clothes and spending money on leisurely activities, let them take control of things like app, music or film purchases (setting limits, of course)
  • Point out that certain online activities, which they may consider harmless, are in fact illegal – something that parents themselves need a better understanding of.

Family online image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic