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Online safety for kids while using fibre internet

Online safety for kids while using fibre internet

Online safety for kids is of paramount importance”.

RocketNet

During our downtime we tend to spend more money and time on our luxuries. This includes unwinding with online entertainment. As parents, we may become a bit more relaxed about how much time our kids spend on the internet or in front of the TV because, let’s be honest, we are tired, they are on a break and we all deserve a break!

That is why online safety for your kids is of paramount importance. Please don’t assume that the websites they are visiting or the web browsers they are using to surf the web are always safe, because they’re not.

Just like you would keep an eye on your children and oversee their activities at a public playground, you also need to supervise their online engagements and interactions to manage the risk of exposure to inappropriate content, protect them from cyberbullying and ensure they don’t get preyed on by paedophiles or unwanted influencers. The reality is that the worldwide web is a much bigger playground than your local playground is and therefore there are many more inherent risks.

Extra precautions can be taken to ensure the online safety of your kids like using apps for parental control and by setting up online tools, like web browsers and search engines, correctly, to make sure your children can enjoy their screen time safely.

And before you go down ‘Guilty Lane’ about being overprotective and stuck-in-the-past, remember it’s not about not trusting your kids, it’s about not having a guarantee about trusting others online.

Having extra peace of mind while they enjoy themselves with their favourite Netflix show, or latest game developed by the latest app developer, will help you to have the break you need at this time.

Online safety for kids while using fibre internet
Unwind online in safety

The basic steps to ensure online safety for your kids.

  1. The most basic of steps that can be taken is to password protect your devices and entertainment apps. Make sure the password for your laptop, tablet, smartphone, smart TV, Apple TV and all the apps across all these devices has been set up with password protection, as a first precautionary step.
  2. Next, don’t use simple passwords like your name, ‘0000’, ‘password’ or ‘1234’. Make them hard for your kids, but make them memorable for you. Don’t use the same password on all the devices you have because if you need to change the password on one device, you will need to change the password on all of them.
  3. Lastly, use any safe settings features that your web browser may support. On the Google search engine for example you can activate a feature called SafeSearch. To use SafeSearch make sure your default search engine on your web browser is Google. Then enable the SafeSearch feature in the Google settings. The best option here is to use Google Chrome as your web browser and then use the safety features under settings. You can also try Google’s Family Link option.

For more information on creating strong passwords read our blog post ‘How to create a strong password’.


Only allow a limited time for online entertainment.

We not here to tell you how to parent but research has proven that too much time on new tech devices like tablets and smartphones can have a negative effect on you and your children. It isn’t always about what they are watching or playing; it is also about how much time they spend watching and playing.

Most devices, like the iphone, keep track of how much screen time one spends on their phone. Look under your settings options to find a screen time app or feature on your phone that may already be loaded by default.

Only allow a limited time for online entertainment.
Limit your kid’s time online

Block websites you feel are too mature or inappropriate for your kids.

To block or filter inappropriate content, start by using the features already available on the operating system you are using. Microsoft and Apple for example have settings available that can be applied for each user profile you create on your devices.

For a more tailored and in-depth blocking and filtering experience you can use third-party services like NetNanny. NetNanny is a paid-for-service but has loads of features and is good value for money.

Remember that these types of products can give you information on accounts that they know your kid is using. If, for whatever reason, your kid creates a new account on a friend’s device these products won’t be able to track those accounts, so ensure you know what access your kids have at other homes if they aren’t with you.

You may need credentials, like your kids usernames and passwords, for these third party products to work. If you want to be in complete control of what is downloaded onto any given device then you can set the passwords on your kids device yourself or you can set up two-factor authentication.

For example, your kid wants to watch a movie on Google Movies, you can allow them to login to their Gmail account and browse the movies they want to watch but, when it comes to actually watching, they will need a pin or a security key from your cellphone before they can actually purchase the movie.

Block websites you feel are too mature or inappropriate for your kids.
You have control over the sites your kids visit

Can I monitor my kids phone?

If you want to go covert you can actually monitor all sorts of things on your kids devices like short messages (SMS), the social networks they frequent through their phone, their email and much more.

Some of the best known apps for this type of monitoring service are KidBridge (available on the app stores) and WebWatcher. Another cool app is Bark. Bark allows you to create ‘alert words’ like ‘alcohol’ so you will be alerted when these are the topics of discussion between your kid and their friends.

Some apps on your kids phone have built-in features of their own. YouTube has a feature which reminds you to take a break and also has age-restriction settings. TikTok has a feature that allows you to manage your kids account from your phone – they call this feature Digital Wellbeing.

Keep track of your kids phone
Keep track of your kids phone

Should my kid know I am monitoring their online activity?

Our answer would be yes. According to the law, and societal norms, you are responsible for protecting and providing for your children. As such, you are an ally to them and they should be reminded that you love them and want to protect them.

The first port-of-call when setting all of these features up is to have open and honest dialogue. Like driving a car for the first time there needs to be responsibility and accountability for actions.

The internet is a much a bigger place than the area they simply live in and there is a lot more to explore. It gives kids access to the same things that adults have access to without them having to show an ID book at the door or a driver’s license when being pulled over.

Teaching your kids responsible browsing is the foundation to all of this and the foundation should be based on trust.

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How to avoid being tracked online by tech companies

How to avoid being tracked online by tech companies

As human beings, our privacy (including how to avoid being tracked online) and personal boundaries are inexplicably linked to our human dignity, our independence and our freedom. Privacy and the ability to decide who to let in and when, is critical to being able to be separate from others and to maintain self-determination.

There has been a lot of news coverage with the ‘Big Tech Antitrust Hearing’ happening in the USA. The whole hearing is really about whether we as consumers can trust big tech companies. Trust is the foundation of all lasting and healthy relationships. Without trust there can be no progress. Perhaps the big tech companies, in order to earn our trust, should be the one’s telling us how to avoid being tracked online?

We have put together a guide on how to avoid being tracked online in light of all the information that has come out about these tech companies and their anti-trust practices.

The disappointing realisation from the efforts of the US government to begin regulating these tech companies is that they too are under scrutiny for tracking their citizens (see the PRISM program for more information). If it is happening in one nation, it is happening in others too. So, it seems, we need to take responsibility for ourselves to avoid being tracked online while surfing the internet and we ‘trust’ that this guide will assist you in your efforts to do just that.

Just remember, that although these tactics will go a long way to keeping the spies at bay, nothing is ever 100% full proof (our little disclaimer).

How to avoid being tracked online by tech companies
We have a right to online dignity

Is it true I need to avoid being tracked online through my computer’s camera?

Sad, but true. Hackers can gain access to your camera through the internet and watch every move you make in front of that little lens. It is possible that you may notice this happening by the little camera light switching on unexpectedly but, that is not always the case. There are techniques that hackers use to avoid being detected. So, when you are not using your laptop to surf the internet, then close it, disconnect it from the internet or place one of those small round stickers over the lens when not in use to avoid being tracked online through your camera.

Avoid being tracked online through your computer’s camera
Avoid being tracked online through your computer’s camera

Just when you thought cookies gave you a warm, comforting feeling?

Remember Hansel and Gretel? In the story, Hansel and Gretel leave behind breadcrumbs so that they can find their way home again after their perilous journey. Unfortunately, the breadcrumbs get eaten by birds, so they could no longer find their way back home.

Similarly, when browsing the internet using a search engine, the websites you visit leave behind cookies on your computer like the trail of breadcrumbs in Hansel and Gretel. The cookies then keep track of everything you do, from where you shop online, to the articles you are reading on the internet, to the links you are clicking on. They find their way back to your IP address, which is like your home address on the internet.

These cookies are also what allow you to seamlessly login to your most recently visited accounts without having to enter your username and password. Cookie anyone?

The websites you visit leave behind cookies on your computer
The websites you visit leave behind cookies on your computer

Like the birds, you can avoid being tracked online.

One way on how to avoid being tracked online through cookie detection is to clear out your internet browsing history after each session as well as set your browsing options to private. You can also use a website called CCleaner to delete those hard-to-reach cookie ‘crumbs’ from your internet browsing history and so be extra safe.

Also, don’t rely on internet web browsers to keep a record of your usernames and passwords and to keep your information safe. Read our article on how to create a strong password for increased security measures and internet password management.

Another way you can avoid being tracked online is to use alternative internet search engines like StartPage or DuckDuckGo. These search engines allow you to browse the internet without worrying about them tracking you.

Next, you can use a tool called Tor which scrambles your IP address thereby masking your online ‘residential’ address making it difficult for any website to track you. The Tor VPN is even used by Edward Snowden. Need we say more?

Clear your browsing history to remove cookies
Clear your browsing history to remove cookies

Social media platforms and mobile phone apps

Did you know, that mobile phone apps – and not just the big tech companies – can track every phone call you make? They also have the ability to view every photograph on your phone, they can view all of your contacts, complete information on your phone for you, track all of your internet web browsing activity and also track the places you physically visit.

One of the ways they do this is with social media voting buttons or analytics tracking scripts. They do this to build a database of you around your likes and dislikes for advertising targeting purposes. But who knows what else they use the information for and whom they sell it to, without your consent?

We know it can be a drag, but when you register your details on a new website, make sure you read the terms of service first and take steps to protect your online privacy.

Beware the social media voting buttons
Beware the social media voting buttons

Other ways on how to avoid being tracked on your phone.

The only types of apps you should be using on your phone are mobile browser apps.

Only login to websites on your phone when you absolutely have to and then log out again when you done. If you stay logged in, these apps will extract information from you that you probably don’t want them to, including gathering information through your phones microphone, ‘Enemy Of The State’ type stuff. The best way to stay logged out is to delete the cookies on your phone regularly.

Also, disable the location services on your phone. You can disable these services under your phone settings.

If you are using native phone apps (apps developed for a specific platform) then please know that a VPN (virtual private network) won’t be able to protect you from revealing your location.

One last tip: Platforms like Facebook, Google and Twitter use cross-site tracking scripts or pixels which are used in social sharing and voting buttons to gather all sorts of data about you. These types of tracking efforts can be blocked using services like Disconnect.

If you have some favourite apps that you use every day for recreational purposes, and you can afford to, then have a dedicated device for these apps. Perhaps a tablet that you can set up with all the security advice and features mentioned in this blog that stays at home and you only connect to the internet when in use. Trust us, it’s worth it.