If you read our recent article on the Campus for Moms initiative in Tel Aviv, you’ll already know see how tech firms are going the extra mile when it comes to looking after the whole family. Microsoft have a Kid’s Corner in their Windows Phone OS, Kaspersky Lab added an extra home security layer in their PURE anti-virus software and now Google are working with NGOs, specific local government departments and organisations like UNICEF to educate, empower and protect the online safety of children.

At a Google Moms event hosted by well-know blogger Tanya Kovarsky this morning, Google business strategist Irwin Montishiwa spoke about the dual effect that today’s internet freedom has on children – although the web presents many opportunities to explore the world virtually, both from an entertainment and educational angle, there is always the risk of being exposed to inappropriate content.

Fortune Sibanda, public policy and government relations manager at Google South Africa, debunked certain myths about keeping children safe online. What we commonly believe – and what Google researchers have proven wrong – show that using the internet is not necessarily dangerous in the way we think it is. For example, many parents believe that children are unaware of privacy controls when in fact more than half of the young adults surveyed by Google had adjusted their own privacy settings in social media. Also, some parents resort to blocking the internet entirely when this may lead to kids accessing the web in other ways, without much-needed parental supervision or guidance. (Common sense really.)

Here are Sibana’s five tips for practising online family safety:

  1. Keep your computers in a central place: this will make it easier to keep a watchful eye on your children’s activities.
  2. Know where your children go online, and help them navigate safely: the web is the new playground, so it’s important to sure that all devices which can connect to the internet have the correct settings.
  3. Flag inappropriate content and report abuse: most websites have a tool for this, find it and use it.
  4. Protect passwords: this includes using more complicated passwords – rather than things like your birthdate – and never saving passwords when using public computers. Log out and leave.
  5. Limit your contact with people who you meet online: like in their day-to-day life, it’s important to encourage your kids to never talk to strangers.

Google also has a family safety portal which details simple ways for busy parents to set up basic solutions for their families as well as quick tools to filter age-appropriate apps and blogs, lock SafeSearch, password protect in-app purchases and report offensive content.

[Images: Google PR]