Surfing the web without safeguards is asking for trouble. In the new year, put Internet safety first!
Our kids are growing up as digital natives–modern technology has always been a part of their lives. We parents, however, are digital immigrants–learning a new land and language as we go.
I would never claim to have Internet safety all figured out. I can’t keep up! You probably feel like you can’t either.
To cope, I have decided to focus on what I can control and establish healthy communication to handle the rest as it comes.
While there is no foolproof fix for Internet safety (despite what marketers say), there are some simple safeguards you can put in place to help your children from unintentionally wandering into trouble.
They say locks only keep good men honest, and I tend to agree. A really determined and knowledgeable kid will be no match for most safeguards parents set, but that is where actual parenting comes in to play. You know–restrictions, removing devices, heart-to-heart talks–those things.
That said, here are a few how-to’s to set up some basic security on popular sites like Google, YouTube, and Steam. These settings will prevent most accidental trips to the less savory parts of the Internet. However, they are no replacement for parental supervision.
If you just got some new devices for Christmas, now is the perfect time to get them set up for Internet safety!
Google makes it easy to set up its “Safe Search” feature to prevent innocent (and not-so-innocent) searches from turning up something awful.
On your Google Search page
- click the “Settings” button at the bottom of the page.
- Select “Search settings”
- Turn on “Safe Search”
- Lock your “Safe Search” so a password is required to change it.
Note: Safe Search has to be enabled for each Google account the child has access to. If you are logged in most of the time, set it up on your account otherwise it is pointless.
You can tell it is on when you see the words “Safe Search on” just below your Google avatar in the right hand corner of a desktop screen.
Here is a video version of the instructions to enable safe search if that helps you.
What would our kids do without this channel to watch other people play video games? What is that all about, seriously?
YouTube has lots of interesting content, but sadly it also has a lot of very inappropriate content. You can limit your child’s access and prevent most of the less savory videos from popping up in the “Suggested Video” section by setting up some restrictions.
Turn Restricted Mode on or off
Go to the account icon .
Click Restricted Mode.
- In the dialog box that appears, toggle restricted mode to on or off.
You must set up “Restricted Mode” for each browser your child has access to–so every device. Restricted mode can limit certain types of videos and also restrict comments.
Here is the video version of how to enable/disable “restricted mode” on YouTube.
Steam is a gamer’s paradise. My son loves it and requests gift cards for many of his gifts. However, for younger players, it can be more access than a parent wants to other players. Fortunately, Steam allows parents to set up some basic protections.
- Log into the Steam account your child will use.
- Click the Steam menu in the top menu bar.
- Open the Settings option.
- Go to the “Family” tab on the left side of the window that opens.
- Click “Family View” to start the Family View wizard.
- Step through the wizard to select the content and features you’d like to be accessible while in PIN-protected Family View.
- Select and confirm your new PIN.
With Family View restrictions enabled, you can limit the specific games your child can play. You can also restrict access to the store, library community and friends sections so you have more control.
Of course, there are still many ways to get into trouble on the Internet, but these settings are simple and powerful first steps.
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