The Importance of Online Safety and the Innovations Working to Keep Kids Safe Online

53% of children own a smartphone by the age of 11, and in such a digital age, it’s not uncommon for children and young teens to be immersed in an online world. Between social media to texting and other online platforms, ensuring that your children are safely navigating the internet can seem nearly impossible. However, there are a number of online software and applications that are designed to do just that — and help you maintain a positive parent-child relationship in the process.

The value of online safety

Due to the sheer accessibility and prominence of online platforms like social media, being immersed in an online world is commonplace for today’s children and teens – though it’s not without its dangers. For example, in addition to cyberbullying, sexting, etc., online grooming is yet another prominent danger, and one that many parents don’t realize. In fact, as many as one in five US teens who regularly use the internet admits to having received unwanted sexual solicitation online, highlighting just how prominent the danger really is. Due to this, it’s imperative to foster an open and positive learning environment on the subject of online safety, and that you’re aware of the signs of dangers like online grooming – such as your child asking to spend more time online, using inappropriate language, or discussing new friends seemingly out of nowhere.

Innovative apps for effective monitoring

While many parents may be quick to turn to full-fledged online software programs to monitor their child’s activity online, there are a number of apps that hold a variety of features to help do the same. For example, one application by the name of Bark helps to monitor social media accounts in addition to texts, and will alert you when it detects concerning content – including that of drug activity, sexting, and even signs of depression/suicidality. However, the features don’t end there, as Bark also provides tips for productively addressing the matter when it does detect something, making it ideal for fostering a positive and safe environment.

PocketGuardian is another similar application used for effectively monitoring your children’s online activity, though it’s innovation goes deeper in uniquely maintaining both safety as well as fostering a respectful boundary in regards to your child’s privacy, thus making it the perfect solution for teens. This is thanks to the unique operating system, which scrolls through texts, direct messages, posts, and even photos for inappropriate content. However, instead of screening for specific keywords, PocketGuardian screens for the context and language that’s used in order to more accurately detect concerning material. And, unlike other similar services, PocketGuardian doesn’t send you a screenshot of the material in question, which helps to maintain your teen’s privacy – instead, you’ll get information including a description of the type of inappropriate content.

Safety via software

In addition to innovative applications, there are also comprehensive softwares out there that can aid in productively monitoring your child’s activity online. Kaspersky Safe Kids is just one notable example of a full featured monitoring software for both desktop and mobile platforms, as it includes geofencing, web filtering, an alert system in addition to no device limit. However, it’s important to take into account that there may be limitations to such software, as Kaspersky’s content filtering is limited to specific browsers and its social media monitoring only covers Facebook and VK.  Another option for software monitoring systems is Norton Family Premier, which entails an easy setup, no device limit, and even includes an option for custom restrictions for different children (from low to very high), though it’s important to note that it doesn’t work on Macs, making the limitations necessary to keep in mind when looking into such softwares.

While these softwares generally involve a paid subscription, there are free parental control software available that can allow you to try before you buy. For instance, Qustodio is available for Mac, Android, iOS, and even Kindle and Nook. While the free version involves a comprehensive amount of features like the ability to create rules and schedules and block unsuitable content, the paid version includes additional services like SMS monitoring and social media features.

Ensuring that your child is staying safe in a hyper-digital society can seem nearly impossible, especially with a number of online platforms to keep track of. However, by making use of innovative technology in the form of applications and softwares, you can ensure they’re staying safe while maintaining a positive and safe environment regarding the subject.