Despite being ripe with positive, useful and educational information, the internet is chock-full of potent dangers, and your children can get into quite a few uncomfortable and, sometimes, dangerous situations whether it is intentional or not. As highlighted in our past blogs on this topic, if you have a standard Homeowners policy, you will likely have little protection from the legal liabilities that can result from inappropriate actions via the internet.
What can you do?
The easiest way to ensure online safety for your children in the home is the simplest; situate the family PC in an open, community area of the home. Children who access the internet in areas where their parents can see the computer screen are much less likely to engage in irresponsible behavior or browsing than those who have complete privacy. Not to assume all kids are irresponsible on the net, but there are plenty of others out there who are, so parents be vigilant as 81% of teens say they keep an extra tab open on their internet browser in case someone approaches the computer. While at school, parents must rely on teachers prohibiting cell phone and internet usage for non-educational purposes. When you consider all the aspects of how the internet can be accessed these days, it is nearly impossible to be aware of whom your child is interacting with (without help that is). When it comes to mobile internet access, if you are concerned with the risks involved, just like everything else… there’s an app for that!
There are parental controls apps that can be installed on smartphones and mobile devices in addition to a vast array of web-based solutions along with hardware and software products that can help you monitor, track and filter the content your kids are viewing on the internet. The simplest parental control utility can prevent access to inappropriate websites; limit the amount of time spent online and set a schedule for what time of the day internet use is permitted. Other tools can block outgoing content to prevent kids from revealing personal information and even provide weekly emails or online reports so you can stay up to date on your kids’ online activities. Some advanced products feature much more involved internet management such as being able to limit access to games based on Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) ratings, monitor instant messaging conversations and even push control up into the home router so that all devices (PCs, game consoles, smart phones and others) are covered. While most tools rely on an app installed on the child’s device or under their account, and require their cooperation by leaving the app installed, there are new products that take a different approach and collect only information that is publicly available to help parents and children set up privacy appropriately.
It has never been more important to talk to your kids about their online activity, both on a PC or mobile device. Talk to them about the dangers of the internet and the consequences of their actions. Make them aware that the internet ‘is forever’ and not to discuss or post any private information online. Most importantly, prepare them properly for how to deal with anyone who might mistreat or insult them online or if they are contacted by a stranger. Often times, problems can be compounded because kids are afraid to say something in hopes of not getting in trouble themselves; provide an outlet to help and listen to any issues they face in the virtual world. For additional protection and peace of mind, there are plenty of choices with and a wide range of features that allow parents to choose the mitigation tools that suite them and their families best.
Proper monitoring of your children’s online activities will not only ensure their safety and wellbeing, but will also protect you, your home and your assets from falling prey to predators. Making sure you are properly covered by your Homeowners policy will help ensure you are covered in the event of a breach or lawsuit. To learn more about cyber risk mitigation and coverage available to homeowners, contact Purnima Rangarajan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 732.395.4262.