The Internet is an amazing tool. While adults use in their personal and business lives without sparing too much thought for its inherent dangers, children are at much higher risk. And yet, kids are using the Internet daily to research school reports, communicate with teachers and other kids, and play interactive games.

By Simon Campbell-Young, MD of MyCyberCare

We all want to keep our kids safe. But that job is getting tougher and tougher with all the apps and social media out there. Curfews don’t have the same effect as they did in the old days. Now, kids don’t have to leave their homes to find trouble. Devices like computers, smartphones, and tablets bring the world right into their bedroom. And there are all kinds of hidden dangers online putting young, vulnerable minds at risk.

While cyber criminals target adults to steal identities and money, children are at risk of inappropriate content, cyber bullying, and online predators.

In fact, predators have increasingly started targeting and grooming potential victims online, leading to a number of countries having passed laws that require websites to get parental consent before collecting or using a child’s personal information, or even to allow a child under the age of 18 to access the site at all.

Parents should be aware of what their kids see and hear on the Internet, who they meet, and what they share about themselves. They should talk with their kids, use tools to protect them, and keep an eye on their activities.

As kids get older, it gets a little trickier to monitor their time spent online. They may carry a smartphone with them at all times. They probably want — and need — some privacy. The Internet can provide a safe virtual environment for exploring some newfound freedom – but only if precautions are taken.

There are a number of online tools that let parents control their kids’ access to adult material and help protect them from Internet predators. Many ISPs provide parental-control options, and there is software available that helps block access to sites and restricts personal information from being sent online. Others can monitor and track online activity.

Kaspersky Safe Kids, for example, includes an app for the child and a parent app which are connected via the My Kaspersky account. The app on the kid’s device helps parents regulate the child’s activities, allowing them to filter web pages, define app-usage controls and manage how much screen-time the child gets. There is also social-network monitoring, text and call screening, and real-time alerts.

For parents, solutions like this can also be used to provide real-world protection. By using a GPS tracker, they can locate the whereabouts of their child on a real-time online map, and can define a safe area for them to stay in. They will then get alerted instantly if the child moves outside of this zone.

As technology advances, our world and the dangers that exist will continue to change and evolve. With the Internet becoming more and more predatory, it has never been more important for parents to keep in touch with their kids’ surfing behaviour.