With the rapid advancement of technology, it has become easier than ever for more and more people worldwide to access the internet, even children.
That brings about many concerns for parents because the ease of access brings along with it a myriad of things that could be potentially harmful to their kids. Amongst these threats, one of the more harmful threats children online are exposed to is malware. Precautions must be taken to ensure the safety of kids online, both from malicious content and malware. If you’ve never heard of malware, it’s a term used to describe a malicious software that damages or disables computers and in some cases steals private information. It includes spyware, viruses, and other types of harmful software.
Malware can easily infect a computer secretly through music files, infected websites, malicious software, and online video games. It can threaten kids’ safety online by exposing them to harmful content, compromise their identity and location or completely ruin a computer. Malware can spread to other computers, just like a virus. In this article, we’ve collected some of the best measures to be taken to protect kids from malware and keep them safe when browsing the internet and gaming.
Why Do Kids Need Protection On The Internet?
Like schools, the news, the government, etc., many different sources warn parents about keeping their children safe online. There are stories about various online predators attempting to take advantage of innocent children. Such issues contribute to the enormous fear parents have about allowing their kids access to the internet. Approximately 93% of kids between 12-17 are active online, while another 75% have cell phones. These numbers are staggering, and such statistics warrant the need to implement effective monitoring and protection to ensure the safety of kids from malware.
The following are some of the many dangers that kids online may be exposed to and why kids’ safety online is needed:
- Coming in contact with predators in gaming lobby chat rooms, or social media, among other platforms.
- Phishing scammers tricking children out of sensitive information either about you or about them.
- Malware infections can allow other people to access your child’s computer.
- Violent or graphic content, like acts of assault.
- Age-inappropriate content, including drug and alcohol use.
- Unwanted adware programs, advertising, and pop-ups that are mostly downloaded automatically when shareware programs are downloaded.
- Sexually explicit content, especially pornographic videos and images.
How To Protect Kids From Malware?
When it comes to practicing the following precautionary measures, you must be willing to have an open dialogue with your kids on all the unknown dangers of malware. The following are some reliable ways to ensure your kids’ safety online from malware.
Setting Up Digital Boundaries.
When you decide to set boundaries, it will be a significant step towards effective communication with your kids. To be specific, you need to set digital boundary rules with your kids. This is important in helping them better understand that there are both good and bad things on the internet. They can do many good things, like communicating with family and friends, learning about different things, or playing some fun and entertaining games. Nevertheless, there’s also a dark side of the internet that can be dangerous, especially for vulnerable children and even for some adults.
Come up with rules that you want them to follow and talk to them about it. There’s also another option involving them in the decision-making process, so they feel as if their opinion is an important part of the conversation. It will be much easier for them to follow the guidelines when they know you aren’t dismissing them. For example, you can ask what their opinion is on not having access to gadgets or the internet at certain times. Depending on what time you want your kids to go to bed, you can tell them there’s no internet at least two hours before bedtime. Decide on which sites you want them to access and which ones they can’t access. Give them open and honest answers when they ask why they can’t visit certain sites.
Getting An Anti-malware Program.
Malware brings about many problems and headaches. However, getting an anti-malware program is an efficient way to eliminate such problems and not expect them again in the future. The program efficiently protects your gaming, purchasing, and browsing activities from malware and any harmful viruses. An effective anti-malware program should be able to keep the trojan viruses away from your computer. These are a class of code or an app that usually appears harmless when you download them. Once you’ve downloaded it, the bad part is that it may start doing harmful things with your information without you knowing, or it could be the start of seemingly endless malfunctions.
There are a variety of anti-malware programs that you can use. One of my personal favorites is Malwarebytes Premium, it will get the job done exceptionally well. In my opinion this program offers solid protection from several different forms of online threats, something even the best antivirus systems fail to do. It works well when it comes to blocking suspicious programs, and conducts daily scans to eventually eliminate threats that attempt to interfere with your computer’s functionality.
Use Parental Controls To Create A Safe Space For Kids.
As much as you want to protect your kids from malware, you can only do so much. A good way to protect your kids is to ensure you have parental controls installed on any device your children may have access to, including laptops, smartphones, iPads, laptops, or desktop computers. After you install parental controls, they can be customized to block sites according to your child’s age automatically. They are excellent to use, as you can efficiently track all your children’s online activities. This doesn’t require you to be a computer-savvy parent to observe what your child is busy searching on the internet when you aren’t around watching them. Even Google has additional filtering that helps block all objectionable content that may appear in your kids’ search results.
There are many good Parental control apps that do a phenomenal job of keeping your kids protected from all the available online threats. Without a parental control app, your child can directly go to any site they hear about or a friend suggests to them. Well configured parental controls can provide significant protection from cyberbullying, inappropriate content, or online predators. Parental controls can restrict application access to images, thereby preventing your kids from sending or receiving harmful pictures. They can also be used to track your kids’ location.
You can also use parental controls strictly for monitoring only; this allows you to set up rules that your children need to adhere to without setting up any blocking features. This helps in improving your child’s self-control skills. It gives them a chance to make the right decisions while allowing you to monitor if they are doing the right thing or not.
Make An Effort To Communicate With Your Kids About Their Internet Concerns.
Setting up controls is sensible, but you can still encourage your kids to openly discuss with you any concerns they might have regarding their internet use. Let them know why not engaging in certain content is beneficial to them. Take your time to give them the responsibility to do what’s right, but it should still be within the safe confines of your parental control settings. It’s impossible to keep your kids away from harmful adult content forever. That’s what makes communication with your kids essential to nurture a strong relationship of trust between you and them. They’ll rebel less when they feel like they’re listened to.
The internet has become an enormous part of our lives, and everyone can easily access it, most importantly, our children. Therefore, it’s critical to ensure your kids don’t view any type of content that is harmful or inappropriate. You can supervise them to check what they are doing online but sometimes supervision alone is not enough. In addition to supervision, you also need the right software to keep viruses out of your devices. Malware can be tough to deal with and easily make its way into your computer, where it can cause a lot of damage. That is why installing an anti-malware program to protect your devices from malware can be extremely helpful. Parental control software is also beneficial when it comes to tracking your kids’ activities online. The internet is a tremendous resource that can be used in many positive ways. Building responsible habits from a young age will help your kid better utilize this resource as an adult.