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Childproofing technology

By Alex Balan, Head of Product Management, BullGuard on 03 Apr, 2014

Children are naturally curious, mischievous and exasperating, often all in equal measure. It’s part of growing up, learning, developing and maturing.

They’ll dive into the cyber world with enthusiasm and innocence and will happily explore until they encounter something dark and disturbing. In a world of ubiquitous Internet access it might seem like an almost impossible task to protect children from that which they should be shielded against. However, there are steps that can be taken to childproof technology and significantly reduce the chances of them being exposed to things that can be damaging.

Filtering harmful content

Install security software that has parental controls so you can block harmful websites and emails from appearing on your child’s screen. This is a good first step and one which will give you peace of mind.

Make sure spam filters are in place in your child’s email accounts

Some security software automatically enables spam filtering so you can guard against your children receiving junk email, encountering sexually explicit ads, scam and solicitations for inappropriate products or services. At the same time your child’s email account will have a spam filter, enabling you to filter the emails your child receives.

Speak to them about their surfing habits and the social networks they use

Many children have at least one online profile where they display their hobbies, interests, thoughts and photos. Find out what these are and engage with them by asking them about the sites and what they like. If they’re using Facebook you can use software with parental controls that allows you to discreetly monitor their behaviour and protect them from ‘stranger danger.’ You could also sign up to other sites and ‘friend’ your children, to familiarise yourself with the site and be privy to their status updates. 

Don’t leave webcams in their rooms

Children love to communicate with their friends via webcams or cameras embedded into their devices. If they are using webcams try and get them to do so in a family room. If this proves to be difficult make sure the webcams are removed from their room at night as well as other devices that contain cameras. No matter how sensible your child is they are by definition still innocent. And predators are extremely skilful at manipulating this innocence towards their own ends.

Check out the history log on the browser

It might feel like spying but it will tell you all you need to know about the web sites the kids have been visiting. That is, if the tech savvy children, haven’t deleted it.  If they have, content that has been downloaded is automatically stored in a folder on the computer. Find out where the folder is, sometimes in ‘documents’ on the start up bar

Smartphone and tablet safeguards

It might seem like children are welded to their mobile devices. And they probably are.  These ‘pocket-computers’ however, present all the same parental anxiety-inducing moments that ‘at-home’ computers do. But like other computers, you can still safeguard your kids with discreet monitoring software that allows you to keep an eye on texts and images. The more advanced versions of mobile security software also offer keyword monitoring as well as GPS location tracking.

Talk, talk and more talk

At the end of the day we all like attention. It makes us feel valued. And with children this need is even more acute – they thrive and grow on it.  As ‘digital natives’ children are often well ahead of their parents and carers when it comes to using and understanding technology. Talk to them and find out what interests them and how they use technology.  You may be pleasantly surprised and by showing and interest they’ll be more receptive to you. It’s a great way to educate them about the potential pitfalls of the online world and the basic safety rules.

BullGuard provides software that keeps people secure online and helps protect children online whether they’re using ‘at-home’ computers or mobile devices.