The Federal Trade Commission has approved a multimillion-dollar settlement with Google over YouTube’s handling of videos aimed at children. The initial investigation came after concerned parents and consumer groups reported that adult content appeared when searching for children’s videos and queued up after watching kid-friendly content. This has led to a larger conversation about privacy and security of online, especially when it comes to children’s data. As YouTube explores ways to make video searches more appropriate for children, we have these tips to help your kids stay safe online:
Keep an eye on their computer or devices. If you’re worried about what kind of content your children may encounter online, restrict their screen time to a common area of the house where you can keep an eye on them. You can also turn their internet time into bonding time by browsing the web with them. Through your example, you can show them what good browsing habits look like.
Use websites for kids. Using kid–friendly websites and children’s search engines like KidzSearch* limit the amount of adult content your kids may come across. You can also enable parental control settings on all major web browsers to help filter some of the content. While they aren’t always foolproof, they will make a difference in the exposure to adult content.
Teach them about privacy. Let your children know what to be wary of when they’re browsing the internet. The internet holds a world of possibilities, both good and bad. No matter what your child’s age, openly communicating with them and sharing your concerns is important. Things that happen online can have real life consequences, so don’t be afraid to reiterate that if someone contacts them asking them personal details, to send pictures of themselves or meet in person, they shouldn’t be afraid to say refuse their request. While you may have told them this before, don’t be afraid to drive that idea home because by stopping one criminal, you could be saving other potential victims.
Strong passwords. For any online accounts, especially your children’s, ensure that you have strong passwords. A strong password is unique to you and has a mix of words, numbers, symbols, capital letters and lowercase letters. If possible, use words in your password that people couldn’t easily guess; don’t use personal details such as your birthday, your name, etcetera. And remember: you want to ensure that you aren’t using the same password for all of your accounts. If one of your accounts is compromised, you don’t want to give them the key to additional data.
Be friends online. If your child is old enough to have a social media account, remind them that once something is posted, it’s always posted. Even though something may be deleted by them, there’s no knowing who saw it, if it was screenshotted or if it lives on a server somewhere. A way to keep an eye on what your kids are posting without having to look over their shoulders is to be friends with or follow them on their social media accounts.
Limit screen time. Limiting screen time is a great idea in general when it comes to your child’s viewing habits, but it can also keep them safe. The less time they spend online, the less likely they are to stumble across inappropriate content. Find the time limit that’s right for your household and stick to it.
When it comes to the vast expanse of the internet, there’s only so much you can do as a parent to protect your children. Websites may do what they can to protect children from adult content, but their algorithms are not full proof. You, however, know what is best for your children and can take things into your own hands. Making small steps in your household can positively impact your children’s internet experience. For more tips about internet safety, go to bbb.org.
*As a matter of policy, BBB does not endorse any product, service or business.