Quick Tips to Protect Your Family Online

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Date:
09 February 2017

By Gail Mullard, Digital Marketing Associate

Last Tuesday, which was Safer Internet Day, we joined in the conversation with  3 easy ways to secure your smartphone.  Within a subject as wide and varied as internet safety, your mobile device seemed a good place to start as these devices carry an enormous amount of personal data - between your social media profiles, banking apps and emails any discerning hacker has access to your birthday, address, next of kin, mother's maiden name and lots of other juicy bits of information that could be used to break password protected sites.  it was whilst writing the article however, that it became apparent that security is relatively simple when you know how.  So, extending this train of thought , here are our quick tips to protect your home network especially for children.

Quick Tips to Protect Your Family Online

Image courtesy of http://kosheronabudget.com/

Child Accounts

Most people have upgraded to the Windows 10 operating system now, but even if you use Windows 8 you can still introduce security settings specifically for your family.  The Windows OS allows you to create Child Accounts to restrict the content your children can view online - you can even set a time limit for daily device usage!  Just go to Settings>Accounts>Add Family Member.  The account requires an email (illegal until the age of 13 years) but a child account has the advantage of being able to untick the advertising boxes so that advertisers cannot show ads nor remarket to your child.  The only downside to these accounts is that an internet savvy child can go into the settings and change any of these restrictions themselves: don't say we didn't warn you!

 

Supervised User Accounts

If your child is still quite young another option to try is a Supervised User Account. 

You set up this account from within your own Google account.  This type of account allows you to set the security levels that are appropriate to your child’s age and to limit the websites that he or she can use. Just remember to always log your toddler in to this account rather than merely handing them your device!

The best part of a Supervised User Account (or Restricted User Account as it is called on Android tablets) is that it prevents a child from downloading Apps from the App Store and/or making In-App purchases on your device. No gems, coins or Smurfberries will be bought with your hard earned cash unless you agree of course!

 

Protecting Tablet Devices

With their mobility yet bigger screen, tablets are often shared more communally than smartphones with parents happy to give their children or even visiting guests access.  The best way to protect yourself with a tablet device is to set up multiple user accounts so that you can share it as required.  No more tumble weed moments as you politely refuse a friend the opportunity to surf the web after dinner. Guest wi-fi access is available on most routers which is another way to safeguard your network from attack by less vigilant friends and relatives.

When it comes to the kids, user accounts as on a tablet just as on a desktop are essential especially for toddlers as you can switch off the camera and Facetime functionality removing these icons from inquisitive little fingers!  You can also put an age filter on content and set restrictions on any music, films, apps and websites they can visit – they’ll thank you in the long term!

 

IPad Tablet Security

While the above information is appropriate for Android tablets, Apple takes a slightly different approach to children’s web accessibility.  You can’t set up multiple accounts on an iPad, but you can set up a Restrictions area in Settings, which can be turned on and off.  It’s in here that you switch on and off access to different apps, websites, TV shows etc. 

If the device belongs to your child. e.g., an iPod Touch, then set up an email for them and create their account on the device so that you can set the restrictions and lock them with a passcode.

 

Routers

Moving away from Browser and User Accounts and to your router, you can also set filters here to add another level of security.

As your gateway to the web, your router filters out all sorts of content before it has a chance to show on your devices.  However, the biggest drawback to router security is that the options are high, mid or low level filtration and this setting then applies to everyone on the network – from 2 year old Tabatha to 20 year old Timothy and you as parents, so this functionality is worth knowing about but not always the most practical.

 

Conclusion

Up to a certain age, you have full parental control of what your children can and cannot access on your home network devices, so it pays to implement individual user accounts and set them up on their behalf.  However, once they reach the ripe old age of 13 years and start using social media and their own email you have to rely on the basics of passcodes, encryption and back-ups along with good old fashioned trust and guidance.  Internet safety is a huge subject, but understanding and implementing these basic features alone can make a huge difference to how your children are exposed to online content.  If you have a good tip that is easy to implement please add it in the comments below.