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Friday, May 13, 2016

Why and How to Monitor Your Child’s Online Activity

There are a lot of positive things to be said about kids accessing the Internet. In addition to being an amazing educational tool, it is a great way for them to stay in contact with friends and family, watch entertaining videos and play games.

Of course, this vast online world does have a more sinister side. From cyber bullying and identity theft to adults who prey on youngsters, parents should definitely do everything they can to protect their kids from the dangers of the Internet. With this in mind, check out the following ways to monitor your kid's online activity:

Check the history

The easiest way to learn what your child has been up to online is to check the browser history. If your kiddo uses Chrome, press the little wrench icon on the top right and click on “history.” This brings up a list in reverse order of what sites your kid has accessed.

Use a wireless router

Some types of wireless routers can keep a list of which websites are visited through your home Internet connection. To do this, access the router by typing in the IP address in the address bar, and then click on “logs” to see the activity. Your router model might let you block certain websites and also set up alerts in case your kiddo tries to access one of them.

Set up parental controls

If you let your child use your tablet or smartphone, get one that allows you to set up parental controls. For example, the iPad Pro includes a “Restrictions” feature that blocks or limits whichever apps and features you want, including some of the more “adult” content in the iTunes store.
To activate this feature, tap Settings, then General and then Restrictions. This prompts you to enter a passcode. From there, you can block whatever you wish. If you need help, visit the Support section of the Apple website.

Use software to keep an eye on things

Certain software will help to keep a virtual eye on your child’s Internet activity. For example, the McGruff SafeGuard allows you to monitor your kiddo’s online conversations, search what terms they have looked up and see which websites they have visited. As a bonus, the software translates some of the common abbreviations kids use, so you will be able to understand what they were saying to their peers. You can also use the McGruff SafeGuard as a parental control, and the program will alert you via email or text if your child is doing something that is concerning.

Keep the lines of communication open

One of the best ways to ensure that your child will behave appropriately online and also not fall prey to the dangers of the Internet is to have an ongoing conversation about these topics. Let your kiddos know that you have the right to keep tabs on what they are doing, and that you plan on setting up certain restrictions. This way, if you have to speak with your son or daughter about something inappropriate, the conversation won’t turn into an accusation about lack of trust. Remember that most kids can learn to turn off notifications and clear web browsing history, so the best way to monitor what they are doing is through honest and open communication.

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