Holidays and the Internet: How to keep your children safe online

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Summer school holidays in South African are upon us and this means extended leisure time for all school learners. During school holidays, some children are left home alone while parents are out working. In these instances, it becomes very hard for parents to keep an eye on their children; the amount of time they spend in front of television, and/or time spent on their mobile phones and computers. 

As much as the internet can be very informative and entertaining, it can also be very harmful, especially to children. Nowadays, children face extreme pressure to be online and with many children being victims of cyberbullying, naturally parents want to try and protect them as much as possible.

Cyberbullying can be detrimental to a child’s emotional and mental health. Most children go from being very social individuals to having withdrawal symptoms from their family and friends. If you are a working parent, it might take time to note these changes with your child/children however with the advancements of technology you are now able to control what your children do on the internet and the type of content they are exposed to.

Below are a few parental control apps to help you:

  1. Kids Zone: This app is a great one to install if as a parent you sometimes share your cellphone with your children. The app allows you to set up different users, making sure that your kids only have access to the apps set up for them.
  2. DSTV Parental Control: The DSTV parental feature available to all DSTV subscribers allows parents to select an age restriction that they want to block from their children’s viewing. Parents can simply create a pin that will be required whenever a program that is off the pre-selected age restriction.
  3. Appsafe: A paid parental control application that allows you to do the following: Set Multi-device time limits | View social network activity | Block pornography | Control games and apps | Track SMS messages and calls | Location tracking and panic button
  4. K9 Web Protection: Software that is compatible with most operating systems and can work with both PCs, laptops and mobile phones. This software can be used to: Block certain websites | Block certain types of content | Set time restriction for the children | Protect passwords
  5. Family Link: The Family Link app from Google lets you set digital ground rules to help guide your children as they learn, play, and explore online.

While it is good and well to protect your kids from the dangers of the internet, it is also important to create time for them to step outside the house and get active.

Here are a few ideas that you as a parent can do to keep your children entertained outside the house without the use of technology these holidays:

  1. Take our kids to the park, a museum or animal park 
  2. Play kids friendly board games
  3. Go to the beach and let the kids swim, play beach soccer of volleyball
  4. Get you kids in the kitchen and start cooking with them. They will thank you when they one day go out in the world as young adults 
  5. Have a family picnic
  6. Go bowling 
  7. Volunteer at a homeless shelter for a day
  8. Go for a seasonal fruit picking in the farm near you (Strawberry picking is very popular time of the year in Cape Town for example)
  9. Do spring cleaning around the house and encourage your children to donate toys and clothes that they are no longer using

Wishing you all happy and safe holidays South Africa!

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