Summer of Safe Browsing: 5 Ways to Keep Online Searching Secure for Kids

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With summer vacation about to start, kids will inevitably spend even more time online. So here are some tips for making sure they’re only seeing what’s appropriate for them.

“You shouldn’t have to be a computer scientist to protect yourself and stay safe online,” says Nadja Blagojevic, a manager of privacy and security at Google. But if keeping track of all the filters and settings is overwhelming, start with these these five ways to keep your children’s online exposure PG.

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1. YouTube Safety Mode

Turning on Safety Mode in YouTube is an easy way to filter out videos with mature content, or videos with age restrictions.

Scroll down to the bottom of any YouTube page and click on the “Safety,” button and switch it on. You can also log in with a YouTube account and lock Safety Mode as your default setting. Remember you have to do this on each one of your computer’s browsers.

When Safety Mode is activated, inappropriate videos will not show up in video search, related videos, playlists, shows or films. It also filters objectionable comments. The filter is not always 100% accurate, but it helps screen out questionable content you don’t want on your family computer.

2. SafeSearch in Google Search

If you want to hide explicit images, search results, and videos from popping up while Google browsing on your family computer, you can activate SafeSearch to prevent sexually explicit video and images, as well as links that may lead to explicit content from appearing in the Google Search results. You can set the filter in the “Search Settings” preferences here and on any search results page, or you can activate it while you are signed in to your own (or your children’s) Google account by clicking “Lock SafeSearch.”

3. Flags on YouTube

Just because a video gets uploaded to YouTube, it doesn’t mean it has to stay there forever. If a video — or user comment — is unsettling to you, you can flag it. Flagging the video alerts YouTube’s 24/7 staff that its content may be inappropriate, and violates YouTube’s Community Guidelines. Videos that are violent, sexual or hateful will be reviewed to determine if they should be removed. YouTube accounts that violate the Community Guidelines are penalized, and an account with multiple violations can be termination. Check out the Community Guidelines here.

4. Google+ settings and safety notifications for teens

Tech savvy teens tend to share a lot online, but sometimes certain photos and material are more appropriate for family and friends, then say, their boss. That’s why Google+ has created safety settings and notifications specifically with teen users in mind. When a teen signs up for Google+, there are different default settings in place to keep them safe and remind them to be responsible sharers. For example, a teen will have default settings for “My Circles” that range from “Occupation” to “Bragging Rights,” so interactions and content sharing are kept within the appropriate groups.

5. Good to Know

If you want to learn more about ways to keep your family computer safe from inappropriate content, Google’s Good to Know website contains more helpful advice. Topics range from how to have a secure password to how to prevent identity theft. If you’re teaching your children about how to stay safe in the real world, you should share way of navigating safely around the digital universe as well.

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