Internet Safety
 

 Cyber Safety: Is technology safe for your child?

 
Cyber Safety  
As parents, we certainly can’t be with our children constantly to monitor the potentially inappropriate material they may encounter. But we can help them learn to make good choices. We can take advantage of teachable moments to compare media content and messages to our family values--perhaps when watching a TV commercial or show, viewing a website, movie, or discussing the lyrics to a song.
 

Cyber safety is an important parent-child discussion to revisit frequently with your child, from elementary school through high school. Experts warn that children are most vulnerable to online dangers while in their own home.  While many potential dangers are filtered so students can’t access them at schools, parents sometimes forget that children may have direct access to inappropriate sites at home unless they take action.

What you can do to keep your child safe:

All Minnetonka School iPads have built-in filtering software blocking access to inappropriate sites regardless of whether the device is at school or off campus. However, children often have complete, unrestricted access to inappropriate sites on other devices such as home computers and personal cell phones. Experts strongly suggest installing software to filter and block inappropriate content on your wireless home network. ​​

Filters can be set to block Internet access completely or block certain sites like pornography, social media, and gaming. Further, filters allow a parent to completely control when access is open/closed to such sites. These same tools allow parents to control any wireless device, whether it is a laptop, a smartphone with a web browser, an iPod touch, and more. Without any filtering software at home, a user can get to any site on any device, including a desktop computer. 

Some possible filters to consider include OpenDNS (Here's a short, two minute instructional video for you describing how easy this is to do with free OpenDNS software)SafeEyes, MobiCip and NetNanny, or if you have a newer computer with Microsoft Windows or Mac iOS, the software is built right into the operating system- it’s called Parental Controls and there may be no need to buy anything else.

Filters can be set to block Internet access completely or block certain sites like pornography, social media, and gaming.  Further, filters allow a parent to completely control when access is open/closed to such sites. These same tools allow parents to control any wireless device, whether it is a laptop, a smartphone with a web browser, an iPod touch, and more.  Without any filtering software at home, a user can get to any site on any device, including a desktop computer. 

Take the time to set up some content filters for your children today. Kids are naturally curious and won't filter for themselves. Viewing portrayals of risky behavior can make it seem "normal" when it is not the norm. Often, the reality of negative consequences is left out, leaving kids with a skewed impression of normal standards of behavior, as well as unresolved questions and emotions about the implications of explicit content that they don't fully grasp.​

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One of the quickest, best ways to put a filter on a cell phone is to use Restrictions.  On both Apple and Droid devices, Restrictions allow you to create a separate password from your child's screen lock and limit web content, app installs, purchases, ratings for movies/apps/explicit language, and much more. The default setting for websites that are restricted through Apple iOS is pretty strict, but seems to offer the best option at this time.  You can add a few sites to a whitelist, but your child may need to go to a desktop computer with a more robust filter or need you to enter in your Restrictions password to temporarily access some sites.

Curbi is a great option for parents to filter and monitor their child's iPhone/iPad/iPod and provides valuable data to spark conversations around the use of technology. Curbi filters both cellualr and WiFi connections. Read more about Curbi here. Some phone companies like Kajeet specifically offer filtered phones for children with a variety of additional control options, but their filters don't cover WiFi. 

Some cell phone providers may offer filtering services parents can choose to activate, but these are limited to cellular connections and don't include WiFi, and may not work on 4G networks. To learn more, simply Google your service provider with the words "parental controls." Carriers may offer services to monitor text messages and other features.

There are also services you can purchase that will help you filter your child’s phone such as SafeEyes, MobiCip and NetNanny, but it is important to realize that these products only filter the internet when accessed through that app.  So if your child access a webpage through Instagram or Facebook, it bypasses this app.

Other filters to consider:

  • Turn on the free tools within Google and YouTube to activate stricter filters on web, image, and video searches. 
     
  • TV cable companies offer filtering services as well. Again, simply Google your provider along with the words "parental controls" to learn how to access these features.
     

Other Important Parenting Tips:

 

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