The internet is filled with tons of helpful information. There are copious amounts of sites with educational tools designed to help teach you a variety of things. You can learn how to speak a foreign language, write computer code, or even make your favorite coffee drink.
These sites make the internet a wonderful resource. Unfortunately, there are also several gutters that are easy to slip into.
It's hard enough for adults to avoid these sites, but it's even tougher for teens and kids. From cyberbullying to inappropriate adult content to online predators and the protection of your child's privacy, threats are hiding everywhere on the web.
That's why you need to know these three ways to keep your kids safe online.
1. Use a better web browser
A simple way to protect your kids online is to change their default web browser.
There's a Google-type site called Yippy that's got you covered. Yippy blocks adult content, including pornography, gambling sites and other inappropriate webpages.
Plus, the site protects your privacy. It will not collect personally identifiable information about you, like your name, telephone number, address or email address. That is, as long as you're in the United States.
"Yippy will not track a U.S. citizen for any reason" unless required by court order, subpoena or required by law. If you're not in the U.S., Yippy says you're subject to tracking in an effort to comply with government required protocols.
2. Keep track of your kids both online and on the go
Children are always looking for their independence. Whether they're hanging out with friends at the mall or just surfing the internet, parents worry about what they are up to.
It's a big world out there and there are a million different things you need to be concerned about. Luckily, there is an app that can help give you peace of mind while giving your kids some freedom, both in the real world and online.
The MamaBear Family Safety app will let you keep in close contact with your kids while they roam from the nest. It also monitors your child's social media accounts so you can be alerted to online dangers as well.
To get started with the MamaBear Family Safety app, a parent will need to install the app on their smartphone and register your family's account. Next, you will need to add family members and set a family password. Then, when adding your children, you will need their various social media logins to connect you to their social interactions.
Once the app is set up, parents can know their children's current and recent locations, if their teenager was speeding, or set up arrival and departure notifications at safe places like school, home or practice.
On the social media side, parents can monitor Instagram photos and Tweets in one place. This section of the app will also tell you details about their Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr followers. You can see new friends being added, as well as set up alerts for keywords. For example, you can know if your child posts questionable language.
But this app isn't just for parents. Kids can find this app useful, too.
Since MamaBear uses GPS to track your kids, parents can be updated even if your kid forgets to text you. Children can also check in with their parents using fun emoticons, or send a "Come Get Me" or "Emergency" notification.
The free app is available for Android gadgets only. Click here to download the MamaBear Family Safety app for Android.
3. Combat online bullying
Social media sites will always be popular among kids since these provide social support venues and validations of personal identity. Due to the instantaneous nature of these online connections, there is one dangerous activity that requires constant attention from parents - cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying occurs when someone attempts to defame or harass someone else online. Typically, this harassment is instigated by other kids in your child's school who begin posting abusive statements, rumors or photos online using social media sites.
It is so rampant nowadays that statistics show more than one in three young people have received cyberthreats and over 25 percent of teens have been constantly bullied through cellphones or the internet. Alarmingly, over 50 percent of young children do not tell their parents when they get cyberbullied.
With so many social media sites and web platforms in existence, nipping cyberbullying in the bud can feel like a daunting challenge. But there are some steps you can take to help.
First, lock down your child's Facebook account. Facebook is one of the most commonly used social media platforms, and there are settings you can change that prevent others from posting on your child's wall. Click here and learn how to lock down your child's Facebook account for ultimate privacy and security.
Next, speak with your kid's teachers. Chances are, the school your child attends has some sort of policy on cyberbullying. In fact, many schools have a zero tolerance policy.
Here are a few questions you should ask:
- Is the school offering a reporting system regarding cyberbullying?
- Do they provide an open communication line for students and still provide privacy to protect against retribution?
- Are there school rules, guidelines and bylaws that prevent any form of cyberbullying?
- What are the consequences if someone is proven guilty of harassment?
- Does the school encourage students and teachers to use social media?
Cyberbullying can be terrifying for any student. Parents communicating with teachers and their kids can be a big help in keeping their child from being bullied. Click here for more questions to ask your child's teachers about tech.