Kids are going back to school, and a new year brings new friends, independence and curiosity, especially when it comes to social media, gaming, and other online activity.
Many older children are likely using tablets for their school work and have smartphones to stay connected to family and friends. But even elementary aged kids may be using a smartphone for safety purposes and to give their parents and guardians peace of mind.
Back to school is a good time to get back to internet basics with your children, regardless of how old, or young, they are – or whether they think they already know the rules of the online road.
A recent Pew Research Center study found that only 39% of parents are using some kind of parental controls at home, on mobile devices or on their children’s social media accounts.
However, internet service providers such as Cox Communications offer parental control features that are free for Cox High Speed Internet customers that parents and guardians can easily access.
Parental control features allow parents and guardians to control the amount of time each child is allowed on spend online, restrict access to certain websites, and block websites by category such as dating and gambling.
Cox Communications offers the following internet safety tips to help parents get started:
Know what parental controls can and can’t do. Parental controls can control or block the video games your child can access, filter web browsers so that your children can only access pre-approved websites on their devices, prevent children from using certain devices, manage search engines to limit what children can search for online, and manage the types of videos that are searchable online. Parental controls cannot control who reaches out to your children on their own social media channels, or what photos children view on their own social media channels if those websites are not blocked or you don’t have access to their accounts.
Take inventory of the ways your child accesses the Internet. Long gone are the days when using the internet meant waiting to log on to the family computer. Take inventory of how your child can access the internet (laptop, tablet, smartphone, video gaming system), then set the parental controls to block inappropriate websites.
Create a list for ages 5 and under. It’s 2019 and some children ages 5 and under know enough to click on an app to access a children’s game or website online. Make sure they don’t accidentally click on something inappropriate for their age. By choosing a handful of sites you’re comfortable with, and plugging them into the device your child uses, you can easily monitor where and what he or she is visiting each day.
Give older kids more freedom but restrict potentially dangerous sites. As your child gets older, simply add more sites to any list you’ve created, or give older children access to most of the internet while still blocking specific websites or general categories such as gambling, social networks or dating.
Make controls on YouTube a priority. More kids watch YouTube videos than broadcast TV. To ensure your kids are watching age-appropriate videos, go to YouTube’s parental controls to set your account to “Restricted Mode.”
Don’t forget their email or social media accounts. Make sure you have access to your minor child’s email and social media accounts (usernames and passwords), and regularly monitor their interactions. Otherwise, consider blocking a social media site or deleting an email account.
If parents take advantage of all that parental controls have to offer for every age group (while also talking to their kids about common sense internet safety), their kids can have an educational and entertaining online experience while staying safe.
For more information and step-by-step instructions on how to initialize parental controls, visit https://www.cox.com/aboutus/take-charge/internet-safety.html