Protecting children from inappropriate Internet content.How to protect children online

Protecting Children from online threats has never been so important. We use the Internet for almost everything, but it is a dangerous place. Fraud is rife, spam is never-ending, and viruses are everywhere. The biggest risk is to children who spend endless hours playing online games or watching YouTube. When they ask for that new free game on their tablet, how often do you check that it is suitable? Even if it is, do inappropriate adverts come up for adult sites when you are not supervising them? As they get older and less innocent, there are vast amounts of adult content that will cause all sorts of damage to young minds.

Panorama did a program about the deliberately addictive design of applications on Smartphones: The Dark Side: via @bbciplayer.

Social media risks

Social media is the biggest source of damage. Internet grooming is a severe threat where adults trick children into doing things they would not normally do. Cyberbullying has caused many suicides throughout the world. Trolling is commonplace, with even the home secretary being a victim. If senior politicians can’t be protected, what chance is there for ordinary people, especially children?

If the content is not damaging enough, many websites with adult content also have viruses and other Malware, which will cause computer problems and commit identity theft.

As children age, keeping them safe becomes more difficult as the average teenager is more tech-savvy than the average parent. VPNs are regularly advertised as a way to protect anonymity, but unfortunately, these can also be used by children to bypass parental controls.

Online risks for older people

Don’t forget the grandparents, who are less likely to be aware of the dangers and, in most cases, are more trusting.

How to protect children online?

The best way to protect children online is to control access centrally with a suitable router or firewall, which usually has an annual subscription to a filtering product. All Internet traffic is monitored by the firewall and blocked according to the firewall rules. This becomes more cost-effective as the number of devices increases, as there is only one firewall and one filtering product to manage.

Children can’t bypass the router unless they have another means of connection. Devices with 4G Internet connections, like tablets and smartphones, can still bypass the router. For those devices, installed security software remains the best solution.

The other option is to install web filtering software on each device, which can be effective, but with increasing numbers of devices in the home managing, each device becomes time-consuming and error-prone. Also, the different types of equipment, Windows PC, Apple Mac, Linux, Android or IOS, all would need different software, which each needs managing and have a cost.