The internet is vast and varied in its content, which can be scary from a parental perspective. How do you provide your child with access to the internet safely and securely, without completely restricting their use? You can start by understanding how to adjust privacy and parental control settings for commonly used portals to online content.
- Do you know how to adjust the maturity level within Netflix?
- Are you familiar with how to access your internet browsing history?
- Did you know that you can adjust profiles to restrict internet access on both Apple and Android mobile devices?
- Have you experimented with adjusting your internet search settings?
There are so many ways that we access the internet today; we could devote an entire website to sharing how to adjust parental controls on every app, site, and device. However, you can investigate these options for yourself by simply searching for “parental controls on ______”.
Even your child’s game consoles (Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, etc.) have privacy and safeguard options you can change! By adjusting parental controls, you can allow your child to explore online content more freely.
Additional Ideas to Manage Internet Safety
This does not, however, solve all problems related to your child’s use of the internet. What if your child’s favorite site or device doesn’t allow for parental controls? Creating a family culture of openness about online activity is an important component of online safety as well. Common Sense Media and Google both offer content to guide communication with your family about internet use.
A good place to start when opening communication about internet use is to ask to browse the internet with your child, play the games they enjoy, or view the videos they are interested in online. This will not only provide some insight as to your child’s online behaviors, but also offer a shared experience you can use to talk about tough topics related to online safety.
Legislation Related to Children’s Internet Use
Being well-informed about digital safety and privacy will also help you initiate conversations about the internet with your child and aide you in establishing some family guidelines for online activity. As you explore your options with regard to online safety, it is important to understand legislation related to children’s internet use.
COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) is a law developed to protect minors from online privacy violation. COPPA requires website operators to adhere to several requirements relating to data collection from children under the age of 13, including:
- obtaining parental consent before collecting information from children under 13.
- maintaining security of information collected from children under 13.
- refraining from releasing information collected from children under 13.
Why Does COPPA Matter to You?
As a parent, one way to improve your child’s safety in online environments is to investigate the terms of service for sites your child visit. Terms of Service are typically linked at the bottom of a page, and often, the content of that link is lengthy and daunting. You can find what you’re looking for, however, by doing a browser search for the number 13! The key command CTRL+F (for “Find”) will open a window in which to search the content of a web page.
Typically, a site will include the “users cannot be under the age of 13” clause if they collect information from their users in order to create an account. Many, many sites require accounts, so this stipulation is not at all uncommon. However, as a parent, you can make the choice to assist your child in creating an account if you feel the site is appropriate. In doing so, you are providing parental consent to the terms of service of the site.
This isn’t necessarily a bad idea: there are countless websites designed to promote creativity, problem-solving, and expression, and many of them, in order to save your work, require that users create an account. For a good example of a creative site with an “under 13” clause in their terms of service, check out Canva.com or Tackk.com. However, be mindful of the nature of the sites your children visit; for every excellent creative resource you find, there are a hundred sites that are designed to sell things or promote ideas you may not want to share with your children. These rarely serve an educational purpose. Understanding how data collection impacts users is an important part of becoming a savvy digital citizen.
Make Sure Your Children Are Safe
Your takeaway from this voyage into the realm of online privacy protection is simply to stay informed about your child’s online activity. Understanding your access to parental controls is your first step. Your second goal should be to communicate with your child about their use of the internet and establish some family norms about online activity. Finally, connect with other parents who are also exploring the relationship between digital citizenship and parenting.
The internet is an ever-changing environment, and one of the best ways to keep up with these changes is to find and connect with others who are engaging in the same learning. The following blogs are great resources for staying up-to-date on parenting in the digital age:
Do you have other questions about Internet safety? Leave your questions in the comment section below.
Written by Holly Kidson