Did your kids get a new phone or tablet for Christmas? Here's how to help them stay safer online
Did your kids get a new phone or tablet for Christmas? Here’s how to help them stay safer online
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Did your kids get a new phone or tablet for Christmas? Here’s how to help them stay safer online

Guest blog by Tom Gaffney, technical director at F-Secure


A recent survey found that children own up to six devices by the time they reach 13. Only one in five didn’t ask for a device this Christmas. With this in mind, there will be a lot of children waking up today, excited to explore their new toy.


While the kids are excited, parents are often a bit more concerned about the practicalities of them owning something which connects to the internet and all the potentially damaging content that is out there. It is crucial to protect your children and it’s easily done. But what does this mean? Here we look at how to make sure your kids are safe when they are online, whether they are doing homework, gaming or just browsing.


As a parent, there are two dangers you need to be vigilant to – viruses and unsuitable content. Setting up security measures on your children’s devices should be your first port of call. This will mean their devices will be protected from viruses and parental controls will be in place to make sure they don’t stumble upon adult content or spend time on social media networks when they should be doing homework.


Talking to your child is the first step towards good online security. Security software is there to assist you in protecting your family online, but they still need to be vigilant to the fact that the Internet has bad people, just like the real world.
Here are our tips to keep your child safe online with their new device:


• Set appropriate access – Parental Controls allow you to block any unwanted websites (e.g. adult content, violent gaming and suicide sites) on their PC/laptop and smartphone. You can also set up a password so your child must ask you for permission before downloading apps which could cost you money. One particularly good feature is that parental controls can set up homework time on your child’s device. This means that, for example, between 4-6pm they won’t be able to access any websites which are not educational, so no wasting time when they should be working!


• Security software is a must – install up-to-date security software onto your children’s devices. This includes their smartphones. This will save you having to deal with their tears when their new toy gets infected and they lose everything on it. It also protects your investment. TalkTalk Mobile offers a free app to customers called MobileSafe, powered by F-Secure, which includes virus protection, parental control, anti-theft features and more, along with its network-level security and parental control service HomeSafe, and the Super Safe Boost, offering extra virus protection. For more information click here.


• Stranger danger – Teach your children about the risk of talking to people they don’t know on the Internet. Let them know to tell you if they are worried about anything at all, including cyber bullying. Regular and open conversation is the best way to keep an eye on your child’s online life. You may not understand the latest app they and their friends are obsessed with, but ask about it. They won’t share with you if they think you are not interested.


• Encourage them to be social but safe – Many kids are tech-savvy, so acknowledge and encourage it, but remind your children not to share any private information on Facebook, Twitter and the like. Often, the privacy settings on these sites can be confusing, so check their accounts regularly to ensure they are not open to the public. Facebook users may find this free service by F-Secure useful. It will test your profile to let you know what is open to the public and how to change anything which is.
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Tom Gaffney

About the author

Tom Gaffney is technical director of F-Secure UK & Ireland

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