Saturday 4 March 2017

Do You Know What your Kids are Doing Online?

Parenting is a completely different ball game in 2017 than it was when I was a child. My son is now 13 years old and he is a bit of a tech genius. When his teachers have an issue he helps, when we need to know about the latest developments on the web it is him we ask and he's even applied to school to be a paid Pupil IT Technician.

When I was 13 the only piece of tech I had used was a ZX Spectrum and there was no such thing as the world wide web. When my parents wanted me to disconnect they pulled the plug out if I wasn't listening. Now I have to pray that my son is listening and being honest with me and when I ask him to have a tech free day (we all need to detox regularly) that he does stay off his laptop, iPad and phone and also that he doesn't sneak onto one of his sisters tablets or head to a friends to play or browse there.

Access to the world wide web is a normality today and generally that is a good thing as we are all able to do so much more than we used to and in a fraction of the time but as a parent it can be a real worry as to what our kids are looking at and being exposed to. I'm sure we are all aware of good practises with our children - things like only allowing them to play, chat and browse in an open area of our house, like the lounge or kitchen and keeping an open channel for communications, so that if they do get in trouble they know they can come to you and talk about it but even better if we could have real peace of mind.

Have a look at these children (ranging in ages) talking about what they know about the Internet and then ask yourself if you know more and do you know how to keep them safe and protected from harmful material?

A recent European study* of 5040 children aged 10-15 years, conducted by global cyber security company, Kaspersky, discovered some alarming statistics about how children are using the Internet, and how they may not be protecting themselves as they should. Here are the headline findings -
  • Over two thirds of the children said they had heard bad language on the Internet
  • A third said they had witnessed violence online
  • A quarter saying they had view pornography online
  • One in five children admitted their parents had not set any rules about how they used the Internet at home
  • Then scarily two-thirds of the respondents said they would know how to hide something from their parents that they were looking at online.
I chatted to my son JJ about these findings and he confirmed it would be really easy to hide things from his Dad and I, even though we often grab his iPad at unexpected times and have a look through the history and search terms. He talked about using a VPN and being able to delete the history for that whilst leaving his main history untouched so it all looked innocent and again I have to hope that as we allow him some freedom and we often discuss these kind of issues that he is being upfront and honest with us.

At nearly 14 years JJ has heard (and used) bad language, seen violence and seen some pornography. I asked him what was the worst thing he had seen online and the red blush started to spread over his cheeks, At the moment it appears he's seen nothing worse than my mates used to see in Readers Wives and other top shelf magazines back in the 1980's, It is my near 10 year old girls that I worry more about, especially one of them as she wants to be grown up and has a very inquisitive mind.

A couple of years back we found she had been viewing material we were not happy with on her tablet (which had been bought for TV on long car journeys) and this opened up a conversation and we showed her quite a lot of educational material so she understands more about what is safe and OK online but this is where an app like Kaspersky Safe Kids is perfect.

You can download the app to help you protect your children in this increasingly digital world. The protection is available across their Android phones and tablets, iPhones, iPads, Macs and Computers. There is a free version which has limited functionality or a premium paid version, which is just £14.99 for a year’s subscription. This seems a small price to pay to stay connected with all your kids devices and also to be sure they are in a safe place. For more information about to download Kaspersky Safe Kids, please visit iTunes or the Google Play Store.

JJ and I downloaded the Kaspersky Safe kids app and had a play across two of our tablets to see how the app worked. On his iPad he logged into the app as the parent and created his password and set up the children's profiles and he set limitations. Then I logged in to the other as the child and tried to browse for some content that was limited by the parent account and a notification was received in the parent account to advise them. Our first investigations are looking good and we'll set this up fully and play more.

I was quite surprised with how much the Kaspersky Safe Kids premium version lets you control and see, including -
  • Internet management - to monitor your kids online activities
  • App management - to check an eye on what they are using, downloading or deleting
  • Device management - to help you set time controls for them using their devices
  • Child location - so you can always know where your child is and if they have gone outside of their set safe area
  • Social network management - to help monitor public Facebook activity
  • Mobile communication - lets you monitor Android calls and SMS messages
  • Realm time alerts - send alerts to the parents mobile if suspicious activity is detected
I think the Kaspersky Safe Kids app is great for parents who want the peace of mind to know their children are not accessing sites they want to forbid permission to and also fab for limiting screen time. Why don't you check it out today and see if it suits your family.

 *Study conducted for Berkeley on behalf of Kaspersky carried out in September 2016. 5040 children aged 10-15 years in Germany, Spain, Benelux, Italy and France who go online and have access at home to an internet connected smart device (tablet/smartphone) whether their own or a family owned one.

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