How parents can protect their children online
Dangers on the Net – that’s the topic of today’s Safer Internet Day. Parents and children should know that the Internet is not always safe everywhere. But with a few tips, parents can make surfing safer.
Use protection software
To prevent children from encountering pornographic or violent images or videos on the Internet, there is protection software for PCs, tablets and smartphones. The software blocks pages whose content is not suitable for children or young people.
A distinction is made between whether the software starts from “black” or “white” lists of pages. White pages are those that the child is allowed to access. In the case of black lists, the Internet is generally released, but unsuitable pages are specifically blocked. Whether “white” or “black” is the better solution depends on the age.
In addition to programs that protect children’s surfing behavior, parents should set up a separate user account on the PC for their children. Here they can also control which software or games the child is allowed to install. They can then operate in their own protected environment.
Agree on and adhere to time limits
- Children and young people quickly succumb to the fascination of websites, social networks and computer games. To ensure that there is time for school and hobbies, parents should set time limits with their children and insist that they are adhered to. The initiative “Look! What your child is doing with media” recommends optimal usage times:
- For younger children: about 10 minutes per day per year of age.
- For children 10 years and older: 1 hour per week
- Basically, only in the period between homework and dinner.
Select good offers and explore them together
There are special websites and search engines for younger children. They usually do not contain advertising and there are no links that lead to other, undesirable sites. It is important that children can grow into the digital world step by step. The older the child gets, the more freedom they can be given on the Internet.
Share surfing experiences
What parents should never do: simply park their children in front of the screen. Instead, media educators advise them to conquer the virtual worlds together with their offspring. Then children can turn to their parents right away if they have questions or are confronted or harassed with inappropriate offers. Parents can advise on how to proceed: block troublemakers, report incidents to the operator or turn to complaints offices.
The initiative advises parents to agree with their child not to disclose their address, cell phone number, chat ID or private pictures to anyone and not to publish them online. In the case of social media such as Facebook or YouTube, data protection and privacy settings must be observed and defined together with the child.
Protection software, privacy settings and special offers for children and young people are important. But it is at least as important that parents and children go online together and share their virtual experiences.
The following suggestions will show you how you as parents can better protect your child on the Internet. The most important thing is to inform your child about prohibitions and to agree on firm rules. Support your child as he or she explores the Internet!
- protect personal data
- choose photos carefully
- pay attention to settings and terms and conditions
- how to deal with bullying and defamation on the Internet
Protect personal data
Before your child goes on the Internet or communicates on his or her own via cell phone, talk to him or her about what things are better kept secret and what constitutes “personal data” that needs to be protected. Explain to him that this is just like giving away the front door key and anyone can come in! Your child should not disclose his or her name, age, place of residence, school or clubs without first consulting you.
- use fantasy names in chats, forums or communities
- only join moderated chats or forums
- create two different e-mail addresses for your child, one for friends and acquaintances and a separate one for all Internet logins. When doing this, the email address should not include the child’s name.
- Talk about the friends your child has on the Net.
Choose photos wisely
Remember that names, photos and movies can be copied and at some point take on a life of their own that is out of your control.
- The right to one’s own image is a facet of the general personal rights, decreed in the Art Copyright Act (§22 KUG) There are some exceptions: more about this at klicksafe.
- No photos of the children should be put on the net, on which they are clearly recognizable.
Arrange with your child to ask you before posting photos of others on the net. Photos may only be posted with the consent of the person depicted.
Pay attention to settings and terms and conditions
Before your child registers on networks or platforms, take a look at the general terms and conditions (T&Cs) and any profile settings together with him or her.
Examples: Messages sent to friends in Messenger can be read and saved by the provider and may even be published; free e-mail providers automatically read content from e-mails and search for keywords to send the user the appropriate advertising).
If your child is already on social media, select settings so that only “friends” can see the information. Be sure to read the T&Cs before signing up. Unintentionally, you often give away all rights to sent content here by confirming unread content.
- Passwords should consist of at least eight characters, a mix of small and capital letters, various numbers and special characters.
- How to deal with bullying and defamation on the net
- If your child notices anything unpleasant, check it out and seek expert support in case of complaint. To do this, always stay in communication with your child.
- If you have a complaint, contact either the network operator or the police.
- Regularly check your child’s “online reputation” via search engines and see how he or she currently appears on the Internet. This will help you recognize dangers such as malicious exposure or defamation more quickly.