The Internet is not a safe place to have young kids and teens wandering around unsupervised.
It seems like an obvious statement, yet many parents of young children don't take basic measures to enable parental restrictions on devices or monitor home Internet use by their children and teenagers.
That's a big mistake.
Over the past week, Beauceron CEO David Shipley spoke with Toronto radio host Tasha Kheiriddin about major media stories showing that an increasing number of childrens' images from "sharents" that are posted to social media are turning up in on despicable sites that traffic in images of kids. David and Tasha also spoke later in the week about a major bust of 100 men who allegedly solicited children online.
Our advice to parents is to consider the following basic steps to protect your family from online predators. In addition to these steps, we recommend never leaving digital devices such as laptops, computers, tablets or smartphones in bedrooms or allowing unsupervised use in any part of the home for children under 12.
Step #1 - Have the talk
When your kids start to go online, you need to have the talk, or rather a series of age-appropriate talks. You need to talk to your kids about:
- Online predators
- Graphic violence
- Taking breaks from "screen time".
The Canadian government's Get CyberSafe website has great information for families.
Step #2 - Locking down devices
If your kids use an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, learn about iOS parental controls (also known as Restrictions).
If your kids and parents using Android devices, Google is working on a new tool called Family Link. Unfortunately, it's only available for the latest Android operating system.
The advantage of locking down devices is if kids take them outside of your home network, the protections are still enabled.
Step #3 - Locking down your network
In addition to locking down your devices, we recommend taking steps to secure your home network. One tool worth looking at is Circle by Disney.