Fri | Sep 17, 2021

Become your child’s online spy

Published:Thursday | August 5, 2021 | 12:28 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Isn’t it ironic that those who need our protection the most are left to navigate the online space alone? Well, if you think not, then you are very much deluded. Many of our minors are left to do so every day, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most parents today helplessly complain that their children spend too much time online, engaging with content and individuals that they are oblivious to. Another frightening part of the narrative is that our students can connect with anyone in the global village through a simple click of a button.

I strongly believe that parents should be playing a supervisory role in their children’s lives, even more so in an online space. Parenting online might be difficult; however, with the right tools and approaches our children’s protection can be guaranteed. Parents should take time out to discuss Internet safety and also establish a set of guidelines for their children online. The click of a button or an incorrect keystroke may expose confidential information, and also lay open our children to inappropriate content and predators. From an early age, this life-saving lesson should have been a priority, shared with the same degree of importance as when we were taught to walk safely on the street.

However, even with the best teaching, some children may still be defiant. To provide more enhanced protections, there are both free and paid-for applications that can be used. KidzSearch provides a safer alternative for children searching online, since it automatically filters the contents of its searches and provides only children-appropriate results. There are apps like Family Link, Net Nanny, Kidgy, Wondershare Famishare, and others, which may be installed on our children’s devices to monitor their location, screen time, and filter the contents that they are exposed to.

A clever child may find a way around the aforementioned methods. However, there are more enhanced methods that parents may use to help protect children online. One may configure his or her router to deny or allow access to the Internet during a specific time of the day, using the media access control address of their children’s device(s). This can be found in the settings of your child’s device.

Parents also need to take time out to know their children’s digital footprint. The web browser’s history is a good source of this information. Most browsers also come with secure browsing features that we can use to monitor the sites that our children visit. The tool OpenDNS is free. It can be used by parents to monitor the domains and categories of content that our children can access while online. There is also a myriad of firewalls that can be accessed and used to monitor what enters our home network. While these tools will not block everything, they will offer a great level of monitoring and protection for our children and our families online.

Let’s not be caught napping. The new norm is upon us.

ADRIAN VANHORNE

LECTURER

THE MICO UNIVERSITY COLLEGE