Does this even matter? Some tips for parents

(ISC)2 is an international organisation set up to promote best practice in Information Security, and they have a foundation specifically aimed at cyber safety amongst children.  They have a ‘Top 10 tips for Parents’ which I though worth sharing here,.

(ISC)2 Top 10 Safe and Secure Online Tips for Parents

1. Talk First: Kids are fascinated by what they learn about the world through the
Internet, so take the lead and talk with your child to make sure they understand the
risks without trying to scare them. They want practical advice aimed at fixing
problems. They want guidance, but they are the ones that are going to lead the way in
our digital world.

2. Social Networking Often Begins Earlier than Age 13: Despite guidance and
attempts to restrict membership to kids 13 and older, age restrictions are not respected
or effectively enforced, as growing numbers of primary school children report that
they have Facebook pages.

3. Reward Sensible Behaviour: Encourage your child to ask for guidance and discuss
problems they may encounter online. This way, you foster safe practices and build
healthy communications on this important topic.

4. Computers Don’t Belong in Bedrooms: Most kids over 11 say they have computers
and laptops in their bedrooms. In one school, 85 percent of over 750 kids said they
had personal computers in their bedrooms, with 75 percent of them admitting to being
online after 11 p.m. on a school night. Whenever possible, children should not have
unsupervised Internet access. Keep computers in family areas.

5. Don’t Rely Solely on ‘Parental Controls’: These only work for younger children. As
soon as they are old enough for sleepovers, they are beyond your protection, so you
will need to educate them to be safe.

6. Understand that Any Internet-Connected Device Can Have Risks: Cell phones, Wi-
Fi-enabled handheld gaming devices and eReaders can be used maliciously as well, so
treat them as you would a computer and discuss the risks with your children. For
instance, many online video games have become a lure for cyber predators, especially
those targeting young boys.

7. ‘Friend’ Collecting Is Competitive: Kids proudly talk about the number of friends
they have on their social networks. They don’t even know them all — the objective is
just to look popular. Boys can be particularly blasé about friends they don’t know,
believing that girls are the real target for stalkers and sexual predators. School
surveys show that 50-60 percent of kids admit to having friends or contacts they have
never met.

8. Friends Are the Common Risk: Children are more daring online, insulting others,
posting revealing pictures, and getting personal with people they don’t know, fueling
cyberbullying and sexting. Reports include sophisticated attacks on teachers’
reputations, with fake social networking profiles and campaigns on legitimate sites to
lure people to them. It’s the kids that are making themselves vulnerable to this online
abuse, posting the ammunition — personal information and photos, and sharing

9. Reputations Matter: Most kids don’t need to be told this. What they don’t realize is
how their online behavior effects their real-world prospects. Universities and hiring
managers consult social networking sites when evaluating them as candidates. Not
only does their own behaviour matter, but they must also protect their online identity.

10. A Child’s Online Behaviour Can Negatively Impact Parents: Even if your child
remains personally safe online, their use of the computer can place their parents in
peril. About half of children admit to using peer-to-peer networks to download music
illegally, while pirated games are also downloaded. Parents can be threatened with
prosecution and having their broadband blocked. Also, those sites most popular with
kids for networking and downloads are the most popular for cyber attacks, launching
malware attacks aimed at stealing identities, bank details, even corporate information
on an unprotected home computer.

More information from this organisation can be found at


Filtering your network with OpenDNS

In previous posts I’ve talked about ways to filter content on iPads and PCs. This works for each individual device, but there are ways to filter your whole internet service. This can be a little more complicated and you need a level of confidence in changing settings on your network equipment, but it can be a very effective method of filtering content throughout your household.

OpenDNS is a free service for personal use that can be configured to block a number of categories of web site. For most home users you’ll need to have a small application running on a PC to keep the system aware of your internet address (for most home users, this changes occasionally and you don’t normally need to know what it is)

The video I’ve linked to here takes you through the process for setting up OpenDNS – I’d be really interested to hear about how people get on with this service.

Futher filtering on your PC

If you don’t want to change your browser, or want to try a different way of filtering content on a PC, you might try the K9 Web Filter – it’s free for personal use and it’s an industrial strength solution.  I haven’t used it but it has been recommended to me, as has the iPad browser from the same company.

You can get the software from for Windows or Apple Mac.

Browser safety

Google Chrome is an excellent internet browser that has a large library of ‘extensions’ which add extra functions.  On the PC my kids use I have removed Internet Explorer and Chrome is the only way they can access the internet.  I use the Blocksi extension to filter web content and improve the chances that they are safe from the worst of the ‘net.

If you have Chrome, I suggest you give this a try – it’s free and it’s easy to set up, and easy to turn off if you don’t like it.

If you don’t have Chrome and want to try it out, it’s also free and available at

Education for parents, teachers and kids

For UK audiences (although almost certainly useful for everyone), there is a web site called Think U Know – a resource that has different sections aimed at kids of various age ranges, parents and teachers.  The language used in each section is designed to be accessible to those groups and manages to avoid being patronising, which is not easy 🙂

The website has been in existence for over ten years, initiated by the Home Office but now falls under the remit of the National Crime Agency.

For parents, the various sections can be good discussion points with children, to help you judge how much your kids know about e-safety.  Well worth a look.

Lock that iPad down…

If you have very young children and want to give them the iPad to use one of the excellent pre-school apps, but don’t want them straying off into other parts of the universe, then Guided Access could be a useful option.  It’s a feature of IOS (6 and above I think) hidden away in the accessibility settings.  When you turn it on, it keeps the iPad in the app you select, until you decide to release it.  It could be equally useful for older kids that are adamant they are only going to use a specific app for their homework…

This link is the the Apple support article about Guided Access and is a nice simple guide.  Lock that iPad down…

Safe browsing on an iPad

Probably the quickest, most effective way of making your iPad safer for your kids is to disable Safari.  Sounds like a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but it’s worth doing and there are alternatives you can use for browsing.  

I’m using MetaCert ( which hasn’t put a foot wrong so far, or you could try the K9 browser ( which has also been recommended to me.  Both are free.

The link below has a six-step guide on how do zap Safari and then look for an alternative browser.