More than any other time in history, as we face down the challenges of the online learning environment and struggle to keep our children safe online as they both attend their classes and have fun after the school day is over, Internet safety is taking a front seat like never before. And it isn’t just where they’re going online that we have to worry about anymore — it’s how much time they are spending online that matters, too.
Of course, with the far wider use of Internet-based learning today than ever before, it seems almost counterintuitive to try to keep our kids offline as much as possible. After all, they have to log in to class, interact on chat platforms and breakout sessions, and then log back in later to complete their homework in a timely fashion.
But even with these tasks in play, children are still spending more time online after these chores are completed than any other time in modern history. In fact, online screen time for kids that involves socializing, playing online games, watching videos, and listening to music has jumped by staggering degrees.
But what most parents do not know is that, according to the Organization for Social Media Safety, nearly 85 percent of child sex crimes begin on social sites, where children of all ages spend scads of time after faking their birth dates when signing user agreements. What’s more, in 2017 alone, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received more than 10 million reports of potential child enticement and child exploitation — and this number is on the rise today.
But before you let these numbers alarm you, keep in mind, it is entirely possible to keep children and students of all ages safe at home or in the traditional classroom setting as they surf the web, either to get work done or for pleasure. A host of powerful new tools are now available to parents that will make keeping children safer much easier — but the one thing that none of these tools can do is sit your child down and discuss with them the dangers present online, what to look out for, and when to let a parent, teacher, or other guardian know what might be happening in their online lives.
Making your child feel safe to chat with you about these things has got to be your first line of defense, no matter how sophisticated your tools for online safety are. With that having been said, here are a few kinds of tools you can use to best ensure your child’s safety online as they get their school work done or blow off steam online after completing their work for the day.
What to Look for in Online Tools and Apps to Keep Your Child Safer
There are literally hundreds of different brand name tools for keeping kids safe online these days, so rather than list them by name, we thought we’d give you a list of the characteristics you will want such tools and apps to have to ensure the highest degree of safety for your child. Some of the most important features to be on the lookout for include: Controls and safety that parents can keep an eye on:
- You want a parent-centered control panel that you can view from your own machine at any given point that will tell you:
- Where your child has been online
- How much time your child is spending online
- Whether or not any sites your child has tried to visit were stopped by the app or software and why
- Whether or not there were any attempts at downloading ransomware or spyware that the app or software thwarted
- Which sites made it through to your child’s computer, smartphone, or tablet because you did not have your policies set stringently enough
- A feature that blocks potentially harmful requests from your child: Whether it’s on social media like YouTube or another video-viewing platform, you want a tool to keep kids safe that restricts harmful requests. Typically, the same tools that offer this will also stop your child from playing the types of games that are not appropriate for their age group, so when using these apps or software, be sure to correctly set your child’s age. And, if you want access to these games for yourself or for older kids in the house, be sure to set up different user groups so that those who should have access won’t run into issues when faced with your DNS or another filter type.
A DNS Filter Could Be Your Best Option
With everything you need to block malicious sites, stop the download of malware, viruses, and ransomware, and monitor the amount of time students and children are spending online at home or at school, a DNS filter gives you everything you need, all from one easy to understand dashboard. To learn more about DNS for filtering your BYOD and guest networks while keeping every single user safer across every device on your network built just with education in mind, make sure to read about what DNS options you have and speak to an IT professional who can help you get started/.