6 Tips For Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

Young boy on laptop
Blend Images - JGI/Jamie Grill/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

If your kids are like mine, they are probably on the Internet more than they are on the couch watching TV. If it’s not Minecraft or some other online game, they are on YouTube watching FAIL videos or on social media talking about the FAIL Video they just watched, or filming their reaction to a video of a reaction to the FAIL video or something crazy like that.

As parents, it's our job to try and keep our kids safe while they are online.

This is a lot easier said than done, given the fact that they have so many ways to access the Internet, be it from a computer, phone, tablet, game system, etc.

Here Are 6 Tips For Keeping Your Kids Safe While They're Online:

1. Educate Your Kids About Online Stranger Danger

If you were a kid in the 80's or 90's, you probably were taught Stranger Danger in either a Karate class or during a school assembly. I’m not sure if they still teach it, but the concept of beware of strangers is applicable not only in the real world but in the online world as well.

Teach your kids to never talk to strangers online, never accept friend requests from anyone they don’t know, and to never give out any kind of personal information such as their name, location, where they go to school, etc.

2. Set Some Internet Use Ground Rules and Expectations

Before you go randomly enforcing parental controls, explain to your kids what is allowed and not allowed online.

What times they are allowed online, what to do if they end up on a “bad” website, etc. Write out your rules and expectations and make sure they fully understand what is expected of them.

3. Patch All Your Computers and Mobile Devices

Before you let your kids drive, you make sure their vehicle is safe, right?

As a parent, you need to do the same thing to the computers, tablets, and other devices that your child uses to access the Internet.

To make them safe you need to make sure their devices are “roadworthy” for traveling on the Internet highways. Apply all the latest security patches and operating system updates and update their apps to the most up-to-date secure versions as well.

4. Make Sure Their Computer's Antimalware is Updated And Working

Their computer's antivirus / antimalware software also needs to be up-to-date or it won’t be able to catch the newest malware threats being created every day, leaving your child's computer or mobile device unprotected from the latest threats.

You may also want to add a Second Opinion Malware Scanner for an additional layer of protection should something slip by their computer's primary antivirus scanner.

5. Use a Family-friendly Filtered DNS Service on Your Router

To keep your kids on the right Internet path, it's good to use a filtered DNS service. Pointing your router to a filtered DNS helps to keep your child away from bad websites no matter what device they might be using to access the Internet with (assuming they are connected to your network router and not one that isn’t pointed to the filtered DNS).

Learn More About Filtered DNS in our article: Keeping Kids Safe with Filtered DNS

6. Use Your Router’s Parental Control Features

Home Internet routers have a variety of parental control features. Here are a couple that most routers have that you should consider using if you’re not already:

Internet Access Time Limits

Many routers allow for the ability to turn Internet Access on and off according to a schedule. This helps keep kids off the Internet in the wee hours of the night when they might be tempted to venture into inappropriate territory. Automatically turning your Internet off at a certain time of day also helps keep hackers from being able to attack your systems while you're asleep.

Learn more about this topic in our article Shutting Your Internet Door At Night

Internet Traffic Logging

Some routers also feature the ability to turn on access logging so that you can see the Internet history of everything coming in and out of your network. This history is independent of your child’s web browser history on their device (which they might clear to cover their tracks if they've been to bad websites).

You can turn on this feature (if your router supports it) from your router’s administrator console which is accessible via your web browser. Learn how to access your router’s administration functions by reading our article: How to Access Your Router’s Admin Console.