Keeping Children Safe In The 21st Century, Both Online And In Real Life

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Pick up a newspaper nowadays or go on social media, and bad news is all around us. War, poverty, criminality, sexual abuse, whatever. Bad news travels fast, but good news is seldom newsworthy.

For example, a retired man in his 70s helping school kids across the road with a Hi-Viz jacket and a ‘Stop’ sign might lose his attention for five seconds, and a child might be hit by a car. That would suddenly be front-page news across the country. But if that same man had worked in his public service role for 25 years with never a day off sick, with a 100% safety record, the day he retires almost certainly won’t be reported – yet look at all the positive things he has achieved for the local community.

Accordingly, we might ask the same thing about child abuse nowadays. Are child abductions on the streets increasing in occurrence, or has a more widespread media merely been more efficient in bringing these events to public attention? In short, is the world becoming a more dangerous place for vulnerable children, or is their potential plight just more reported?

One thing is certain: modern technology can enable kids to get online and visit any websites they may find interesting. This is where ‘groomers’ and child molesters lurk in those dark corners of the World Wide Web. To combat these low-life scumbags, the easiest and most effective thing a parent can do is ensure that all the computers in the family are protected by a VPN for PC.

Avoiding The Dark Corners Of The Internet

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A VPN (virtual private network) is a simple and foolproof way to control what can be seen from any home PC or, indeed, any internet-connected device. The online security software also prevents external parties, such as hackers and your ISP (internet service provider), from monitoring your internet activity.

A VPN works as an extension to the browser on your PC or Apple laptop. Let’s imagine you’re using a Windows 10 Dell laptop with Google Chrome as your preferred browser. You only need to download a free installer file, and the browser will then always connect to the internet via a ‘middleman’ server, which is part of the VPN’s network. Indeed, you can even choose from where to connect. If you’re in Florida but you want to connect to the internet from France – just choose a French IP address from the VPN menus.

But why would you want to do this, and what are the advantages of using a VPN?

The short answer is that because you connect to your ISP via a third-party connection first, the ISP can’t know who you are or where you’re located. If your ISP can’t do that, neither can analytics bots on websites you visit, nor can hackers find you via an IP address. In effect, your internet connection is completely anonymous. From a child safety point of view, it’s also possible to create a blacklist of websites that the VPN will reject if a child tries to visit them. Conversely, it also means that anyone wanting to communicate with a minor via the kid’s laptop wouldn’t be able to do so if external connections are banned via the VPN’s parameters.

As well as keeping kids away from internet nasties, a VPN can have great advantages for parents, too, by avoiding streaming geo-restrictions, saving money when traveling and side-stepping data throttling. Let’s briefly look at these one at a time:

Content Access For Adults By Adults

Imagine that you plan a child-free vacation, free of domestic chores, away from the daily grind. Bliss! You’ve dropped off the ankle-biters with your Mom & Pop, and you’re off with a friend or partner on vacation to Mexico for a week. You might be chilling in Chihuahua and want to catch up on your favorite Netflix show. But Netflix detects that your laptop is outside the USA, so your connection is blocked. All you need to do is connect from your hotel Wi-Fi via the VPN and choose a stateside server from the menu. You’ll be binge-watching ‘Better than Us’ before you can order a cold beer!

Cheaper Flights, Better Hotel Rooms…

When you’re planning that Mexican getaway, if you live somewhere swish like Saratoga, and you log onto a flight and hotel reseller on your expensive MacBook Pro, the AI analytics on your chosen website can see your device and geo-location – that cunning little PriceBot has you down as a cash-cow; whatever rates you see aren’t going to be cheap. The concept is known as ‘dynamic pricing,’ i.e., charging you what the website’s AI ‘thinks’ you can afford.

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But if you use your VPN extension (they work on Macs just as easily as Windows), then you could log onto the web from Mexico while at home in California. Not only will the algorithms likely offer you a lower price for that Chihuahua hotel and flight, but they also give you the opportunity to pay in Pesos. That’s got to be a win/win!

Avoid Data Throttling

Not least, another VPN advantage is the ability to prevent your ISP from slowing down your data connection rate because of heavy usage. Let’s face it, if you’re a child-free digital nomad or a settled ‘work from home’ professional family – Dad may be a graphic designer, Mom a video editor, with two teen avid gamers – you’re going to be gobbling gigabytes of data through your internet connection. Many ISPs single out heavy data users and slow their connections to a crawl to discourage such heavy traffic. But if you connect to your ISP via a VPN on each device, the provider can’t tell who or where you are, so your connection can’t be slowed or ‘throttled.’

In summary, not only can a VPN installed on your kids’ devices help to keep them safe online, the technology offers multiple benefits for adults, too. It’s pretty much a no brainer; a VPN makes perfect sense at home esp,ecially when you’re away – whether you’re with the kids or not.

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catherine

My name is Catherine. I'm a Mom and one of the avid writers working on HerScoop!