Top Tips for protecting your child from pornographic content

Do you know how to keep your kids safer online?

I first met Tony Anscombe a few months ago at a ‘Child Internet Safety’ round-table discussion and how parents felt about tackling it.  The general consensus was that parents are aware of some of the dangers of the internet, many of them are willing and want to keep their kids as safe as possible when online but many simply don’t know where to start.

Interestingly though,

‘ nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of parents are adamant that the ultimate responsibility for online safety education falls to them’.

As a technology consultant in education and a parent myself, I do feel I have a slight advantage, as I do have the technical ability to put some of the safety measures in place, however, I need to emphasize ‘slight’.  I have done a few things at home but not nearly enough.  I wouldn’t even know where to begin when setting parental controls on the router.

Tony is not only Senior Security Evangelist at AVG Technologies but also a father himself and wanted to share with you some tips for keeping your kids safer online which also includes a downloadable Guide for Parents.

Author: Tony Anscombe, Senior Security Evangelist at AVG Technologies

Potecting your child from pornography onlineOn 22nd July 2013, David Cameron announced plans to have online pornography blocked to most UK households by changing the default settings for internet providers. Going forward, customers would have to actively contact their suppliers to ‘opt out’ of this, change their settings, and ‘opt-in’ to view adult material. There was, unsurprisingly, a huge media storm in response to the proposal with fevered debate on all sides.

Away from the debate, it did, however, raise an important question – how much do you actually understand about the implications of this for you and your child? If, like many of the parents I have met over the past few weeks, you are not familiar with ‘tech jargon’ and talk of ISPs, SSLs and WPAs etc., let’s make sense of it all together.

What does ‘opt out’ content filtering mean?

As the name suggests, opt out content filtering means that you have to consciously ‘withdraw’ from the filtering service if you do not wish to use it. Our mobiles, TVs and computers are all set-up with default settings – also known as ‘factory settings’.

Unless you actively reset, change, turn off or ‘opt out’ of these settings, they become part of your computer, mobile or TV settings. Until the Prime Minister’s announcement, the default setting for blocking pornography was ‘off’ – meaning that unless you actively switched on/’opted in’ for the service, by default you and your child were not protected against explicit images and pornography online. Now, unless you actively switch off/’opt out’ of the default setting on your computer, you and your child will automatically be protected from explicit content and pornography online.

We tend to presume a level of safety protection when we go online – something that is often not the case, especially when the right precautions (antivirus, firewalls and blocking, for example) aren’t in place. Many of us weren’t even aware that default settings had to be changed to ensure our safety so the automatic filter just takes manual changes off our to do lists – one thing less to worry about!

What else should you be aware of?

  • There are other threats facing your kids online. Keeping our kids safe online takes so much more than a default ‘safe’ setting. Nowadays, there are chat rooms, social networking sites and forums that all encourage kids to communicate in ways that fall outside the filter. For example, what happens if your child is over-sharing information or compromising their safety on what the filter considers to be a ‘safe site’?
  • It’s not fool-proof. A filter is not a complete solution for protecting your child online. Time must be spent educating children about the potential risks they are exposed to online and how to handle these should they arise. It is important that you view the filter as a starting point and accompany education with additional security precautions.
  • It’s not all about filters. While ‘opt out’ and other protective filters are a key part of protecting your child online there are other basic controls you can take ownership of. Most security software lets you set time limits of their surfing, add sites to a ‘blacklist’ or organize a specifically constrained device profile for them to use – all are great ways of monitoring where and what they can access.

How can I be sure my child is safe online?

The honest answer – you can only do so much. If you have all the necessary security measures in place, and have educated your child as fully as possible then you’re in the best possible position. As they get older you need to trust that they will make the right decisions, but in the meantime here’s my advice, one parent to another:

  • Show an interest. You wouldn’t let your child out all day without asking where they had been, who they had been with and what they had done so why not ask similar questions to our child when they are tucked away with a laptop or computer?
  • Be open. They’ll often follow suit. If you openly share your knowledge and insights they’re likely to share theirs. Make sure you know what’s going on in their world so you’re always one step ahead in protecting their privacy.
  • Download the apps they are using. Most antivirus software products enable you to look at and manage the apps your kids are using. Take the time to look at what they’re doing – from here you can build a safe environment for them to use.
  • Educate yourself. You don’t need to become an internet security expert, but it’s worth having a basic awareness of the potential threats, as well as other things your children may encounter online, and what you can do about them. With the right knowledge you can teach your child best practice too – our e-book (downloadable here) is a great place to start.

If you found this article useful, do let me know as we may be planning a mini-series of posts around this topic.  If there is anything in particular you would like to know please do leave comments/questions below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to do with all your digital photos

Buried under a mountain of Digital Photos like me?

I really must sort out the photos on my iPhone.  I have nearly 2000 when I accessed the photos by my PC today I saw this…..

Too many photos on iphone

Most of my digital photos can probably be deleted and the rest filed but it’s such a mammoth task that I can’t face.  I really need to set aside some time to slowly, in bursts, go through them and file them.  I’m not worried about losing them as they are backed up but I feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of photographs that I’m amassing and with very little organisation this is only going to get worse.

As a blogger and due to copyright issues I tend to keep a lot of my photos, thinking, I may one day need them for a blog post.  You never know when you’re going to need some random photo of a courgette!

It’s such a shame that they just sit on my phone and I do very little with them.  I do create the odd Facebook album and share via Instagram.

So today,  I’ve spent some time trolling the net for inspiration beyond the typical printing on canvases, coffee mugs or an iPhone cases and thought I’d share some of the ideas with you.

8 Different Things to do with your Digital Photos

Screen Saver

You can also do this on your PC or desktop.  However, we have an AppleTV, which is not actually a TV but a device that allows me to access my iTunes content via the TV.  I have set the screen saver on the Apple TV so that it scrolls through my camera roll which is great as we can enjoy some of the photos.

Personalised Photo Books

Personalised Photos Books By Huggler.comI keep meaning to do this but again due to time I haven’t.  There are so many companies out their such as Blurb, Snapfish, Photobox and Huggler to name a few that allow you to upload your photos and create your own photobooks.  These would make great gifts or coffee table books that you could flick through on a rainy day.

Printed Scarves

Personalised Photo Scarves by Bags of LoveI absolutely love this idea and had no idea that it could be done. Have one of your favourite photos printed onto a scarf.  I have a thing for scarves and can see myself getting one soon.

Create a Movie

You could use things like Movie Maker (free on PCs) or iMovie to create your own movie using the images.  They are fairly straightforward to use and you can add your own narration, music, etc.  Then publish to YouTube so you can share it.

Create a ScrapBook

I’m definitely not a scrapbooker, as I don’t have the patience for it,  but my sister has made them for me in the past and I really cherish the ones I have.  Simply print a few off and get started.  This may be a good project for the little ones

Coasters

Personalised Photo Coasters by HandpickedCreate your own personalised coasters, saves the red wine rings on surfaces, by simply inserting your own photos.  I recently saw some on Handpicked, I’ve made a mental note for Christmas presents for Granny.

 

 

Musical Video

It’s amazing the difference it makes by simply adding music to your photos.  A while back I used Memory Blender, which is incredibly easy, simply email your photos to them.  Then they select a theme, put it to music and send you the finished movie so you can publish and share it.

 

Storage Tin

Personalised Photo Tins by Bags of LoveYou can never have enough storage tins.  But instead of labelling them you could have relevant photos printed on the top of the tin (e.g Biscuit Tin, Pencils, Keep Sakes, Nuts and Bolts).  Again another fab idea for gifts.

Photo Credits Bags of Love and Handpicked

Win a Personalised Hardcover Photo Book from Huggler

In addition to all this talk about what to do with all your digital photos, the lovely folks at Huggler.com have offered my readers a chance to win a voucher for one of their Personalised Hardcover Photo Book .

To enter simply use the form below.  Full terms and conditions are at the bottom but in short.  It’s open to UK Residents, aged 18+ and closes on the 9th October 2013.

Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This competition is listed on Loquax, Prize Finder and Competition Hunter.

How to talk to young kids about the internet?

I think it’s time I started talking about internet safety

A few months ago I attended a round table event hosted by AVG, where we spoke about online safety and how confident parents felt about dealing with it.  As a Technology Consultant in Education I do feel that I have a slight advantage to some parents  when it comes to the technical aspects, but I also feel a bit clueless about when I should start addressing it and how I’m going to do it.  

How young is too young?

My daughter is nearly 6 and one of my priorities is to keep her as safe as possible online.  To date I’ve really only addressed the technical aspects of this, setting restrictions on our ipad, smartphones and we supervise her when she is on the PC but I haven’t delved into actually ‘talking’ to her about the potential dangers of the net as I still think she is a bit young.  But I may be wrong.

However, now that she has started reading and writing I think we’ll need to start talking about this ‘very’ soon.  I’ve spent a fair amount time looking around the net for guidance and have written about it in the past ‘How to Keep Younger Children Safe Online’.  However, the majority of stuff I find is more targeted at slightly older children with reference to chat rooms, grooming and cyber bullying.

Be afraid, be very afraid!

At the meeting, I met Will Gardner the CEO of Childnet International, who spends a large part of his time travelling the country researching and talking to teens/kids about online safety.  I was truly horrified by some of the stuff that he’s come across and it’s far too graphic to detail on a family blog. There I was thinking that sexting was simply naughty text messages.  Oh boy, was I wrong!

Resources for Keeping Younger Children Safer Online

Resources for Parents - How to Keep yYounger Children Safer OnlineFollowing the meeting, as Will was aware I was more interested in resources for younger children, he sent me a couple of really useful resources.  They have written a short guidance sheet for parents ‘Keeping Younger Kids Safe Online‘ which is worth a read and the second was a copy of a delightful book about friendship and internet responsibility called Digiduck’s Big Decision (£2.80), which is the perfect way of introducing younger children to the dangers of the internet without giving them nightmares.  You can also read Digiduck’s Big Decision online.

I think like all other good habits we instill in our kids like healthy eating, excercise, hygiene and education we need to teach our kids about online safety at an early age so that responsible internet use becomes natural.

Thanks to Will for firing through these resources.  Your timing was perfect.  If anyone else has any Online Safety Resources for Younger Children I should have a look at please do add them in the comments section.

 

 

 

 

 

Have you googled your kids recently?

How confident are you managing your kids internet use?

I was recently invited to a round table discussion at AVG Technologies in Covent Garden to chat about online safety for kids.  AVG in partnership with Plymouth University recently carried out a study, ‘Parents, Schools and the Digital Divide‘ to look at how well parents understood the risks involved in using the internet, how confident they felt in managing it and if there was anything AVG could do to support them.

I like to think I’m au fait with IT as an ICT Consultant in education myself and have put a few safety precautions in place at home, but there is so much more I should be doing, starting with setting controls on the Router.  However, I can imagine that there are a lot of parents out there who want to keep their kids safe but have no idea where to start.

Why would you?

92% of kids in the US have an online presence by the age of 2 according to Macaroni Kid

The discussion was very informative but the most important thing I took away, was from a brief discussion with Tony Anscombe Head of AVG Free products and a father himself after the round table discussion.  He asked ‘have you googled your child?’ 

Yes,  I’ve googled myself but I’d never thought of googling my daughter and I swear my heart stopped for a brief second.  As a parent blogger I’ve made a conscious decision about how much I’m willing to share about her in an attempt to keep her safer.  I know some bloggers write anonymously, others only show back shots of their kids and then there is the other extreme where I’ve felt physically sick with some of the stuff people share about their kids.  I’m forever, seeing children streaking on instagram.

You will find many posts about my daughter on this blog, I do include photos of her but carefully selected ones never any nudity, I don’t use her name, she’s always referred to as Madame online and if she’s in school uniform I blur the school logo.  I’ve also informed the school of my online presence so they can be extra vigilant.

It’s only a matter of time!

I don’t want to instill panic as I do believe common sense should prevail here and I want my daughter to grow up thinking the majority of people are good, but I took the plunge when I got home and googled my daughter’s name along with the name of our town.  I was absolutely gobsmacked that I didn’t find anything and I did have a good dig around.  Even though I’ve been careful I was pretty sure that something must have got out there hence why my heart almost stopped initially.

Monitoring Kid's Online

Once, I remember taking a photo of something in my house, I think it may have been a verruca on my foot, as you do, and I accidentally took a shot of a parcel in the background that had my home address on it and tweeted it.  Luckily, someone flagged it up and I deleted it straight away.

Lets put it to the test

I don’t know what possessed me but then I thought, I’d check a few of my friends kids and this is when I scared the crap out of myself.  In less than 3 minutes, I found the child’s home address and the name of the school they attended.  I simply put their name and town in google, it came back with 3 search results.

One was a profile of the child including a photo and all his dimensions (height, weight, etc) and one of the other results was a work profile for the mother that included both the children’s names and the school they attended plus their home phone number.  I then googled the home number and voilà it gave me the home address.  Don’t worry I’ve informed her that I’ve done this and she hasn’t crossed me off the Christmas list.

What can you do about it?

As a result of this I am now going to set up a Google Alert which includes my child’s name and where we live, so google will email me anytime she is mentioned online.  At the moment she’s only 5 and this is more for me to monitor myself, but I’d strongly encourage those of you with older kids to do the same.  This will also give you an opportunity to monitor any bullying that is going on.

So have you googled your kids lately?

 

 

How to Keep Younger Children Safer When Using Computers

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More than a third of all 3-4 year-olds are now accessing the internet in their homes. My daughter has been accessing computers since she was two, and swipe technology has made this possible. She whizzes around the iPhone and iPad better than her father does and can often be seen on my lap searching the internet for answers to questions I don’t know the answer to (e.g. why don’t electric eels shock themselves?). She is truly a digital native. She is now five.

As an ICT consultant, I train teachers for a living on the use of hardware and software in the classroom and I strongly believe that these technologies can positively impact her learning.  However, I don’t want her spending day in and day out in front of the screen.

I know a lot of parents are reluctant to allow their children to access these technologies and rightly so. The internet can be a dangerous place, but I do feel that children who are denied access may be put at a disadvantage academically.

I’ve been doing a bit of research about e-safety and younger children, aged 3-5, but everything I read tends to relate to slightly older children who are able to read and write.  My daughter is just learning to read and write so I found that a lot of the information was not relevant to this stage as it was talking about chat rooms, cyber bullying, etc so I thought I’d put together a short list of my top tips for keeping younger children safer when online.

In our house, she has supervised access to iPhones, iPads and a PC.  This is where my experience lies so this article is based on that.  However, I’m sure it can be translated to Androids, Macs and other tablets.  Do chip in the comments section.

My top 10 tips for keeping younger children safer

When using an iPad or iPhone

I’ve learned a few of these the hard way – just remember that the settings are your friend.

1.) Turn off In-App Purchase to avoid any nasty surprises! I’ve written about this in the past when my neighbour nearly got stung with a £70 bill from iTunes.

You can do this in Setting>General>Restrictions and turn off In-App Purchases

How to turn of in app purchases

2.) Turn of Location Services – this one really scared the crap out of me. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that someone could identify my daughter’s location using it. Eeeek!  I have now turned it off! It’s in Restrictions as well.

Turning off Location Services

3.) Disable Safari and YouTube – My daughter and I do go onto YouTube and Google as I mentioned earlier, but only when we are together, so to ensure she doesn’t find her way on there when I’m not looking I have disabled them. It’s a bit of a pain as I have to turn it back on again when I want to use it, but I’d rather be safer than sorry.

How to Turn off You Tube and Safari

4.) Set Media Parameters, again it’s in restrictions but you can decide what age range you are comfortable with when watching films or accessing apps. However, if you are using any other subscription-based film services like LoveFilm, you may also have to change the settings there as well. The instructions can be found here.

Setting Age Restrictions

5.) On the iPad the default is 15 minutes for needing to re-enter a password for purchases.  Change this to ‘Immediately’, otherwise they have plenty of time to run up a bill buying stuff.

Change time limit for entering password

When using the PC

My daughter rarely uses the PC unless I’m with her and to be honest, I’d rather she use the iPad so that I can get on with my work or faffing around on social networks. But when she does, these are a few things that I have done:

6.) I’ve made a folder for her with a list of favourite sites, which reduces the chances of her getting onto an inappropriate site, but it’s not fail safe.

7.) I have turned on Safe Search Mode on Google so when we are searching together it reduces the chances of us coming across anything unsavoury. Look for the ‘cog’ in the top right corner and select search settings, you should see it in there!

8.)  It’s not 100% accurate, but I have also switched on Safety Mode on YouTube.

9.)  Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date in case, god forbid, they manage to download something dodgy. I personally use AVG Free.

10.) And lastly, this is true for any type of technology whether it’s a tablet, phone, computer or gaming console. Always keep them in a busy place in the house, so you can keep an eye on what they get up to. We rarely allow the iPad to go up into her room, unless I’m having one of my lazy parenting moments. We can get away with this at the moment as she is only five, but we will cross the next hurdle when we get to it.

Hopefully, this has helped in some way. Do leave any other tips in the comment section below. Go safe out there!

A huge thank you to Geek Mummy and Violet Posy for their valuable contributions to this post.