Today, thanks to my wonderful Britmums Live sponsers AVG, I have an informative guest post from the truly inspiring Tony Anscombe, Online Safety Expert at AVG Technologies for you all.

I have heard Tony speak on the subject of children and technology many times and really do agree with a lot he has to say.  It is an absolute honour to have his writing here on, so without further ado, I hand over to Tony…

Technology: The Digital Divide

When you sit and think about it, over recent years almost every aspect of our daily lives has, in some part, been touched by online technology and our growing need to stay ‘connected’ at all times. For some of us it is a new and at times a daunting experience, but for our children – who have been brought up in the era of smartphones, tablets and the internet – it is second nature!

Children have access to a host of new social and communication possibilities, and it can be tricky to offer advice when, in many instances, your child’s online skills are superior or just different to your own. So what does this mean for us as parents?

That we’re being rapidly out-skilled by our offspring? As far as tech is concerned, eventually, yes. But it also means that we need to be evermore aware of our children’s internet usage – whether that’s educating and speaking openly with them about best (and safe) practice  or monitoring and maybe restricting their activities.

The Digital Divide

Technology: It’s all connected

With the buzzword of the moment – the Internet of Things (IoT) – meaning watches, wristbands and games consoles that are all connected to the internet, it is becoming even more complicated for us to protect and monitor our children’s online behaviour.

If your house is anything like mine then it is quickly filling up with various electronic devices that allow your family to enjoy being connected to the internet with devices in every room. It started with PCs, phones and laptops. Now we’ve got tablets, connected TVs and games consoles and it only looks set to continue with wearables, connected cars, and even fridges.

All this connectivity in the home is great, especially from a learning and development perspective. However, should you be asking yourself how much you know about your child’s online habits – how often do they access the internet? What apps are the using? What social media networks do they use? Who do they communicate with online?

Technology: Your child’s online habits

While most of us would be happy to ask our child how their day at school has been or if they had a good time playing in the park, I expect very few of us ask these questions when our child has been quietly playing on the internet. We do our best to protect our children in the ‘real world’ – don’t talk to strangers and look both ways before you cross the road – but when it comes to the internet we are entering a whole new territory and because we can’t see or touch it in the same way it becomes a grey area for most parents.

Take smartphones and tablets for example – now 68 per cent of 3-5 year olds can navigate a smartphone unaided, and even more (81 per cent) can play basic onlinecomputer games. With the internet now playing a central role in children’s lives it’s important that you think about the online world as an extension of your child’s physical world – the same rules should apply.

Technology: Striking the right balance

Over the last two years, at AVG Technologies, we have committed ourselves to researching the online behaviour of children to offer you advice on how to protect your child online. To check out our findings and how they relate to your child’s online antics click here!

So what have we found? There’s a thin line between invasion of privacy and the desire to safeguard your child online and it’s important that you strike the right balance. It’s not simply a question of relentlessly monitoring your child’s online activity; this can often be counterproductive and result in the breaking of trust between a parent and child.

It’s about giving your child the right skills to understand the consequences and manage their online activity whilst ‘monitoring’ their online behavior in a way that is not interpreted as intrusive.

One of the big challenges for parents is knowing whether your kids are making use of the security and privacy tools that aid them in staying safe online. To give parents this piece of mind when it comes to online safety we have developed a product, AVG Zen, that will help you monitor your child’s smartphone, tablet and PC without being intrusive.

Technology: Putting parents back in the driving seat

The product, which can be downloaded for free here, allows you to view your child’s protection settings, across all their connected devices, from a single dashboard – essentially a one-stop shop for dealing with your family’s device protection, performance and privacy.  All you need to do is send an invitation to your child, wait for them to accept and from then on you will be able to monitor the AVG apps that are running to ensure the safety of their devices.

So how will this give you piece of mind? Well, the real-time status updates allow you to see that the necessary tools are running and their status, and if anything is wrong on your child’s device you can nip it in the bud before it becomes an issue. Whether you’re at home or travelling for work, you can be confident that your family’s devices are secure, optimized and as private as you decide you want them to be.

Give it a try.  I think it’s the way forward for protecting the connected family, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

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