The problem that faces us is that undesirable material will often masquerade as fun or cool. No up-front puffery of a website is going to guarantee that it is harmless.
How to protect your family from objectionable, inappropriate or high-risk material:
The Q and A forum run by e-safety site Quib.ly is a quick and effective way to get answers to this question from experts in the field of e-technology as well as developmental psychology. This is a not-for profit forum that has an immediacy and relevance to the vexing issue of protecting the young from the hidden hazards of the electronic age of communication.
But, above all, it is a matter of developing insights into the manner in which these hazards are packaged and disseminated and honing the skills needed to counteract them, that is the nearest to failsafe that you will get with e-safety.
Naturally the first place to start is to download the Parental Control apps that are free downloads from your Internet Service Provider.
Educate yourself and the child by reading or watching some excellent footage by non-profit organisations. One of these is the numerous technically and aesthetically excellent cartoon productions put out by www.child-focus.org. They produce fun and informative videos to be found on You Tube Child Focus “E-safety”.
These short clips develop skills for identifying undesirable sites before opening them. They are rendered in an age-appropriate and entertaining style, helping you to identify the child-safe websites.
Self-help sites for teens and parents as well as teachers and can be found online . Check the BBC's website, they have useful advice about dealing with security on social networking sites.
Control of the child’s Internet habits is absolutely essential. This means setting rules and obtaining buy-in from the family on the time limits for entertainment such as gaming and in the choice of games, TV viewing, and social networking.
It means situating the TV or other device where there is high traffic, such as the kitchen or family room.
It means informing the child about abuses by predators, cyber-bullying, sharing private information such as names, addresses, passwords, on a public site.
It should include warnings about the hidden costs in “Free Offers”. Also warn of the risks in subscribing to such invitations where the reader is told he has won a handsome prize and is told how to claim it.
Most children who live in stable homes and enjoy the love and loyalty of their family are not likely to fall victim. But they need to know that when a site makes them uneasy, they should delete immediately or call an adult or older sibling’s attention to it.
Openness and access to sound, balanced advice and guidance in all matters of E-safety is vital to the development of a healthy well-adjusted young person.