I know this isn’t the typical type of post that I write but it’s one that I have felt is very important to share. Recently I have had a lot of things come to light in the lives of those that I am close to dealing with online safety. So often we just think of this as something that we need to work on with kids (which is very important) but in my own home it’s been a peace of mind to have working online safety features in place as well.
First it’s so important to have ground rules and make sure that everyone in the home understands what dangers to look out for and what is expected. Kids are getting online at younger and younger ages and are being targeted even on sites that we think of as safe for them. I have had several friends who’s children have been catfished over the past year. One as young as 6 all of the way up into their teens.
Apps and games often times have chat features that parents are unaware of or even a help section where you are able to talk to people. Including games targeted at very young children. Pinterest has their guidelines set to where nudity is allowed and they no longer have the option of saying that you don’t want to see it without clicking on it and reporting it. In which case it actually causes for more of that sort of thing to pop up because of how their system works.
Instagram, Facebook, Yahoo, Buzzfeed, Snapchat, Youtube, Amazon (including the reading section) and many others have things sneak through from time to time. Tumblr has even been banned in certain countries because 1/5 of it is porn. Yep! I’m being totally serious here.
I could go on but I think you get what I am saying. There are bad people who do bad things and ruin things for many others. That’s how it always been and always will be. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept it.
I mentioned setting the ground rules for our homes as to what we are ok with and what we aren’t. When doing this recently I realized that where I wanted my moral compass to be wasn’t exactly where it was. Over time I had allowed myself to become more comfortable with things that I really didn’t want in my life. Nothing extreme but I know from experience how over time things will seem like less and less of a big deal as time goes on and I didn’t want to go back down that road.
Once your guidelines are set make them clear with everyone in the home. Our children will need to be taught how to see the lines and will need to be reminded over time. Inappropriate things are becoming easier and easier to find and even if we are trying to stay on top of it things will be missed. The best offense is a good defense.
Then I would highly suggest looking at a program that will help keep your online usage safe. Personally we decided to go with Net Nanny. I did a lot of research and I’m not going to lie, at first I wasn’t overly impressed. Things still snuck through from time to time but then I was pleasantly surprised. The program started to learn on it’s own.
I had initially set up my guidelines and it did a good job with those but it started to be more selective over time. For example I was surprised when Pinterest was blocked completely. I added it to the group of websites to allow and over around a month it started blocking specific things on Pinterest instead. Some sites I just allow to be blocked instead but I use Pinterest for so many things that I wanted it kept.
Part of why we chose Net Nanny was because we could put it on our phones and tablets as well as our computers. We can set schedules so that you can’t access internet or games during certain hours on certain days. It makes it so that on phones you can only use the net nanny web browser and you can select for new apps to have to be approved by the admin before being downloaded. You create profiles for each person in your family so that it’s age appropriate for each individual and it even gives you a report for searches done. Plus you can set it up so that it tracks all browser history including in private browsers and each week it gives you an email letting you know how things went.
In this kind of day and age you have to be proactive if this sort of things is something you really care about. Keeping your home and family safe takes work but in the end it’s always worth it.