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Simplifydigital.com’s guide to improve your child’s safety online this half term

As half-term approaches, many children will be looking forward to a week off school to play on the X-Box or playstation, download their favourite music and films and catch up on all the latest gossip with their friends on Facebook. But as the range of household web usage grows, online security is becoming an increasing concern for many parents.

By on May 26, 2011 at 17:13 PM
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Broadband
Simplifydigital.com’s guide to improve your child’s safety online this half term

According to Ofcom, over a third of children aged 12 to 15 have unsupervised web access in their bedrooms and over 60% say they use the web "mostly on their own". The same is true for younger age groups too, with one in five just 8 to11 year olds saying they have web access in their bedrooms and more than a third saying they go online "mostly on their own".

However, half of all those parents whose children use the internet at home do not currently have internet controls or filtering software in place. And the issue of parental controls is not limited to internet access at home via PCs and laptops. Research shows that a third of children aged 12 to 17 use their mobile phones to surf social networking sites, while the hacking problems encountered by Sony demonstrates the growing popularity of interactive game consoles and the risks of sharing information online.

So what sort of security should parents have in place and what questions should they be asking before choosing a broadband provider? 

Simplifydigital.com, the Ofcom accredited broadband, home phone and digital TV comparison service (www.simplifydigital.com) tells you all you need to know.

Simplifydigital.com's 5 step guide to improving your child's safety online


1. Make sure you are involved with your children's internet usage. Ask them what sort of sites are their favourites and what their friends like to do. Discuss with them that the internet contains "good" and "bad" stuff and they should take care where they go online.


2. Teach your children the basic "rules" of internet use - they should never give out personal details such as their name, address, school and telephone numbers to online 'friends' they don't know in person; and neither should they respond to junk email or open attachments that are from people they don't know.


3. Stay aware of any changes in the way they use the internet, such as the amount of time they spend online.


4. Use the "history" function on the internet browser from time to time, to check which websites your children have been using.


5. Choose a broadband package with suitable security and parental control features.  If your broadband package does not come with these features, software can be bought off the shelf. It's easy to install and allows you to filter chat and instant messaging; block web access at certain times; block access to certain sites, or conversely define a "walled garden" of sites that are accessible; and track usage with an activity log.

 

Simplifydigital.com's No 1 recommended broadband package for security - TalkTalk Essentials

TalkTalk, the UK's second largest broadband provider, has just launched HomeSafe, which is free to all TalkTalk customers and is the UK's first "network-level broadband security service". It is clever in that it provides protection for every device in the home (not just your PC).  It has three different features:

    * Virus Alerts  to block web pages infected with malware, to protect users' computers and other devices
    * KidsSafe parental controls - allows the account holder to block the content they don't want to be accessed through their connectionHomework Time - this is a nice feature which allows parents to block social networking sites like Facebook and online gaming during homework time

TalkTalk Essentials costs £3.25 per month (12 months half price) and £6.50 thereafter, excluding line rental.  HomeSafe is free.

The best of the rest - our pick of other good broadband packages with security in mind

 

The other leading broadband providers charge for security, except in the case of their top packages:


Plusnet offers Plusnet Protect in association with McAfee.  It is free for customers taking Plusnet's Extra broadband package, but it costs £2 per month for customers taking Value broadband. Plusnet Protect offers website filtering that can be tailored to the age of the children and/or by the genre of the content that should be blocked. Similar to TalkTalk's HomeSafe, a browsing schedule can be allocated in order to specify the amount of time spent on the internet.
 

Sky Broadband also offers an McAfee Internet Security Suite.  It is free for 12 months for customers taking Unlimited broadband, but £3 per month for customers taking Broadband Everyday Lite after the first three months.
 

BT Family Protection (powered by McAfee) is free for all customers. Filtering is available by age/genre content and access for messenger services can also be set. A timetable for browsing can be set as well as notifications when blocked website access is attempted and when confidential information is posted.
 

Virgin Media (Cable): Virgin Media Security is available to download from a customer's account page for as many computers as they need. Controls can be set to limit genre content as well as block the use of instant messaging tools such as MSN messenger. Both of these blocks can be combined with a schedule in order to schedule selected periods in which access is restricted.

Other good information sources about security and parental control online

    * Ofcom (www.ofcom.org.uk) has a lot of helpful information on internet security
    * Websites such as CEOP's www.thinkuknow.co.uk or tel: 08700 0003344) and The UK Safer Internet Centre.

Understanding the dangers of cyberbullying will help you keep your child safe online. There's help and support available at CyberMentors, tel: 0208 771 3377; ChildLine, tel: 0800 1111; and Childnet International, tel: 020 7639 6967. 


ENDS


Notes to editors

* Simplifydigital.com data based on 1,538 records between Jan 1st to Nov 8th 2010

 

About Simplifydigital.com

Simplifydigital.com offers a free and impartial "Switching Support" service for anyone looking to get a digital TV, broadband or phone package. 

Its London-based impartial experts are available for free over the phone, to answer all those tricky questions and match the family's needs to the best deal available.

Simplifydigital.com's experts are available for free on 0800 1 388 388 seven days a week (Lines open Mon-Fri 8am-8pm; Saturday 9am-5:30pm; Sunday 10-5:30pm). 

You can also use Simplifydigital.com's Ofcom accredited comparison engine online at www.simplifydigital.com.

 

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