What Is a family media agreement?
Protecting Children From Inappropriate Content
How to protect ourselves and our children from inappropriate content when online?
In general, anyone browsing websites would encounter "inappropriate content", either intentionally or unintentionally where some pages, links, and ads popping up. So how about children and youth who surf the Internet frequently?
It is important to know, that even if there are different and diverse standards and levels of such content that vary according to the social cultures of individuals, there are international standards that always serve as basic principles to be embraced and built on.
So, what is inappropriate content?
What is considered as inappropriate content is any content that includes:
- Pictures of real violence, criminal acts, or accidents in videos, games, or movies.
- Real and explicit sensitive, explicit and inappropriate scenes, or any scenes that may include illegal images of inappropriate child abuse.
- Anything that would promote hatred towards individuals or groups based on race, religion, or other socio-cultural factors.
- Anything that would direct or promote crime, violence, or unsafe behavior, such as unauthorized access to computers, or fraud.
- Each and every content aimed specifically at adults and not recommended for children.
Here, one important thing to note is that "inappropriate" content is not necessarily illegal; it might include, for example, violent scenes that only adults can watch, or scenes of circus acts that may be dangerous for children if they try to perform them themselves wrongly and which may encourage them to engage in risky behavior that does harm to them or others.
This may be summarized as any content including scenes that are:
- Extremely violent
- Sensitive and inappropriate
- Promoting unsafe behavior
- Promoting any kind of criminal activity
Tips to keep your kids safe online
First, children or adolescents cannot be banned from using the internet for protection reasons because this would make them more excited and more persistent to learn about it. Therefore, wisdom and prudence are required to control and regulate such phenomenon.
Age-appropriate content: We should guide the kids into using search engines designated for them. As for teenagers, they must be made aware of the need to ask for permission before uploading any software on their devices and not to give their passwords even to their closest friends.
Check the privacy settings of the children’s social media accounts and video games and always remind them not to disclose any personal data to others such as the home address, landline, and mobile phone numbers, parents' workplaces or private passwords, etc. Moreover, teach them how to behave when they watch inappropriate content or meet unfriendly people.
Communicating with children is essential to explain the advantages and dangers of the content on the internet while stressing the importance of being careful, not trusting anyone in this virtual world, and telling their parents about any content they watch. Such communication makes the child, no matter how little he/she is, more conscious and responsible to tell his/her parents whenever he/she notices or is exposed to any risk.
Be involved in your child’s world and discover the internet with him, check what and how he/she watches online content, and show your interest in the digital content that pleases him/her. This is an opportunity to learn about your child’s interests, support him/her, and advise him/her not to disclose any personal information to others.
Use parental control programs to protect the child against inappropriate content, not only at home, because your child will be unprotected when using his/her relatives’ or friends’ internet or public "WiFi".
If the child is a video game lover, make sure, before he/she starts to play, that the game is appropriate for his/her age and with whom he plays, and talk to him about the information that can be shared with other players and how long he/she can stay online playing.
Set rules and foundations for children that both parties can be happy with, such as the amount of time they can spend on the internet, the appropriate timing to use it, the sites they can visit, and the photos, links, and videos they can share with others. And educate them so as not to publish any content or words they cannot say face to face to anyone.
Help your children discover the internet safely by setting a specific goal every time they use the internet to look up information so that for them, the internet becomes a mine of information and a source for the development of ideas and knowledge for him while being fun and useful at the same time.
Attention should be paid to where the children sit when using the computer or smart tablets. Such place must be open and visible to all family members. Also, children are not allowed to shut themselves away with their smart gadgets in their rooms.
User Account: Microsoft Windows 7 and 10 and Apple Mac OS allow users, through their user settings, to set up their accounts with limited access rights and, unlike parents, children are not given the right to administer the system, and thus, cannot install software or change settings without parental consent.
Child Protection Setting: Apple makes it easy for users when setting up an account, to select the parental control option and with a few clicks, parents can decide whether to allow children access to the internet, iTunes Store, and games and limit their screen time. They can also block the children’s access to the webcam.
For Windows 10 users, the Microsoft Family features provide the ability to create Microsoft accounts for children linked to the parent’s account. This way, you can control, through various options, computer activities, and intervene if necessary. Another advantage is that the settings apply as well to any Windows 10 device in which the child is logged.
Software Availability: Regarding “limited user accounts” (Windows 7 or Apple Mac OS) or “family control” (Windows 10), Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OS offer the ability to make available or block some software or games by having an administrative account and adding an account for the child with limited access by applying some content restrictions. For example, you can allow access only to word processing and the internet, as well as age-appropriate games. For more information on how to do that on Windows 10 check, this link, for windows 7 check this link, and for Apple mac OS check this link.
Thoughtful monitoring: Too much monitoring is not necessary since Microsoft family options and MacOS account management software are there to give the parents a good idea of what their children are doing on their computer, such as reviewing the sites they have visited, their screen time, or the programs they have run.
Set up filters: There is no 100% protection against inappropriate content; browsers, however, provide filters that allow parents to create lists of authorized websites that the children can access by blocking any sites you enter, and you can check this link to see how you can do it on Chrome and for Safari check this link. Blacklists or whitelists can also be created in the settings menus of many routers and some keywords can also be blocked.
Conclusion: Communication and awareness are the best solutions
In a nutshell, one must be sure that even the best technical barriers can be overcome and that, as they grow up and gain more experience, children become more resourceful in overcoming them. Parents should not, therefore, rely on technical solutions only, but also on communication and mutual understanding, where they can explain to their children why they are still too young to see some content and how to avoid it and not be influenced by it.