The internet, a cool but unsafe summer getaway for children

Monitoring our children’s web activity is key to keeping them safe

07/05/2010 | Bochum (Germany) 

Just a short time and school is out for the summer. With children becoming more and more computer savvy, much of their summer holidays are nowadays spent online. But being computer savvy is not the same as being a responsible internet user.  The Internet is not exactly the safest of playgrounds, and supervising our children's web activity is vital to keep them, as well as your computer out of harm’s way.

"It so happens that, when it comes to the internet, children are often far ahead of their parents… however, that doesn't mean children know how to recognise deception, and they tend to believe what they are being told or promised online. They chat online, have profiles on social networks, and access all kinds of content without us knowing really what "kind of internet" they are consuming", says Eddy Willems, Security Evangelist G Data’s SecurityLabs. "Social networks and online gaming - two hobbies that take up a large part of adolescents' digital leisure time these days – are constantly being targeted by cybercriminals, who too often gain the “collaboration” of young users, who obliviously offer up their personal data", warns Eddy.

The easiest way to know how kids use the internet, is using parental control. This piece of software is often included in internet security security packages. The functions of parental control of different brands varies. G Data’s parental control has the following possibilities:

  1. It controls the amount of time children spend connected to the internet.
  2. It establishes time windows for internet access according to the parents’        wishes

  3. It supervises PC usage time, independent of whether or not the internet is accessed.
  4. It blocks websites with content related to violence, sex, drugs, gambling,  etc. and all other types of sites you do not want your children to wander to.
  5. It establishes lists of permitted and safe content (whitelisting).
  6. It registers infractions and attempts at usage not permitted by parental control.



G Data's advice on safe surfing for children:

  1. Use parental control. It's a convenient way to monitor children's internet use. It is included in many antivirus security packages on the market, which are available for less than £40.
  2. Fix and limit some reasonable hours for your children's internet use.
  3. Teach your children not to take the internet at face value. No information, advert, etc. has to be true simply because it appears on the computer screen.
  4. Teach your children how to identify emails containing spam (unwanted adverts and messages), phishing (banking scams) and suspicious contents (tempting prizes, exaggerated pleas for help, gifts from strangers...) and, as in real life, don't trust those "digital friends" that we don't know outside of the internet.
  5. Teach your children the importance of not giving personal data to third parties, and encourage them to think twice about sharing photos on the web.
  6. Help your children to manage the privacy levels in their social networks, online games, chats, etc.
  7. Teach your children how to use secure passwords (that is, alphanumeric ones). It is important not to use personal information (birthdays, proper names, ID numbers, phone numbers…). Likewise, it is best to avoid applications that require passwords while using public computers (cybercafés or libraries, for example).
  8. Take all these precautions and supervise your children's internet use... but be sensitive about it, and try to avoid becoming a "spy" on your own children.

Daniëlle van Leeuwen