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Together For A Better Internet

Wong Shu Lee  

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  February 08, 2022

Every year in February, Safer Internet Day is celebrated around the world to promote the safe use of digital technology amongst children and young people. This day aims to not only create a safer internet but also a better internet, where everyone is empowered to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically, and creatively.

 

The Internet can be a wonderful place to learn, shop, play games, and connect with friends. Unfortunately, there are also predators, identity thieves, and others online who may try to harm us. In order to be safe online, it's important for everyone, especially young people, to be aware of the dangers. 

 

Many kids are confident that they know how to be safe online. However, there are a few reasons kids are often more at risk. They may not always think about the consequences of their actions, which can cause them to share too much information about themselves. Kids also are sometimes specifically targeted by cyberbullies or predators. 

 

Using apps and websites where kids interact, predators may pose as a child or teen looking to make a new friend. They might prod the child to exchange personal information, such as address and phone number, or encourage kids to call them, seeing their phone number via caller ID. 

 

Thus, parents and carers should be aware of what their kids see and hear on the Internet, who they meet, and what they share about themselves. Here are some useful ways and tools to protect kids from possible risks and threats on the internet. 

 

Keep the computer in the living room or in another common area. 

 

By putting the computer in a common area of the house, you can reduce the chance that they'll talk to strangers or visit inappropriate websites. For teens, you may choose to give them more freedom about where they use the computer (especially if they have their own computers). If your kids are using smartphones or tablets to surf, try to keep the gadgets away from them at night. 

 

Install antivirus software. 

 

Viruses and other malware are a risk for any computer (although Macs are slightly safer). To protect your computer, you can install antivirus software.  


 

Use a kid-friendly search engine. 

 

Regular search engines may return results with inappropriate content you don't want your kids to see. However, there are some search engines that are designed to only return kid-friendly results (although there is still the possibility of inappropriate results getting through). Examples include KidTopia and KidRex.org. 

 

For younger kids, you may bookmark their' favorite sites for easy access to reduce their exposure to unknown content. 

 

Use parental controls. 

 

Windows and Mac OS X allow you to add parental controls to user accounts. These include time limits, website restrictions, and controlling which applications can be opened. You can also buy parental control software like Net Nanny, which has versions for Windows and Mac.

 

Besides the above steps, you should also watch for warning signs of a child or teen being targeted by an online predator. These can include:

 

  • spending long hours online, especially at night
  • phone calls from people you don't know
  • unsolicited gifts arriving in the mail
  • your child suddenly turning off the computer when you walk into the room
  • withdrawal from family life and reluctance to discuss online activities

 

If you need any guidance or resources to build a safer browsing environment for your children, you can always refer to the official website of Safer Internet Day. Let’s equip ourselves with more knowledge about the internet and the latest information to protect our loved ones from potential threats. 

 

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