4 easy (and free!) things you can do to keep your kids safer online

Keeping your kids safe online doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. Here are four easy and FREE things you can do to protect your family.

 

1. Kick all electronic devices out of bedrooms

If your kids are using the computer behind closed doors, it’s hard to know where they go and what they do online. The illusion of privacy also can entice your kids into believing online misbehavior won’t have consequences. For both these reasons, the vast majority of family internet safety experts advise parents to keep all computers and mobile devices in common areas of the house.

 

2. Check the browser history often

While this isn’t a silver bullet (kids can easily alter the browser history or use an incognito browser), it’s an important first step to keeping your kids safe online. Glancing through the websites visited on each computer, tablet, or smartphone will give you a basic idea of your kids’ browsing patterns. Keep an eye out for gaps in the history (like if you know your kid was on the computer  from 3pm to 5pm, but nothing is listed between 4:15pm and 4:30pm), late night or early morning browsing, or anything that seems odd or out of character for your kids. Furthermore, let your kids know you periodically check the browsing history. This will give you opportunities to talk to them about internet safety and give them added incentive to follow your family’s media rules.

 

3. Give the internet an early bedtime

Even if all electronic devices stay in the living room or kitchen, the busiest areas of your house are deserted at night. Use the parental controls on your kids’ devices to shut the internet down at a certain time, or simply turn off the router when you go to bed.

Bonus– your kids will sleep better, since the blue light from their devices won’t suppress the melatonin in their brains.

 

4. Password-protect all your devices

All computers and mobile devices come with the option to sign in with a password, and this barrier to entry can prevent everything from your baby changing your phone’s language to Arabic, your toddler finding disturbing videos on YouTube, to your tween surfing the web before she’s finished her chores. Then, if the kids are home alone, no one can be online!

Possible exception: If you’re one of the many families who do not have a landline phone, you may want to consider keeping one phone unlocked so your kids can call for help in case of an emergency.

 

If you liked these tips, check out our family internet safety live event here!

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An interactive internet safety guide for kids– check it out!

Add some real-world education to your kids’ coronaschool curriculum!

 

AT&T has created an internet safety tutorial for kids that quizzes them on online etiquette, protecting personal information, social media safety, and more!

 

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Sunny, straightforward, and practical, Sammy’s Guide to Internet Safety will entertain and educate kids. It’s probably best for ages six to ten years old.

 

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Sammy’s Internet Safety Guide does leave off some topics parents will want to make sure to cover, like avoiding pornography, social media FOMO, and the benefits of unplugging. Check out our blog for tips on talking to kids about pornography and the effects of too much screen time!

 

You can also download Sammy’s Internet Safety Guide and print or save it on your computer. This could be a great test to make kids pass before they get online. Parents, teacher, and librarians– take note!

 

We applaud AT&T for promoting internet safety education for kids! Check out Sammy’s Internet Safety Guide here.

 

Protect your home with Clean Router! Download our Parent App today to make internet safety easier than ever.

 

Order your Clean Router today!Learn tips to keep your kids safe online

Has your browser history been deleted?

So– you think your browser history has been deleted. You’re not sure what was deleted, or even IF anything was deleted. Unfortunately, the only way to see if your browser history has been deleted is to recover the full history and compare.

We all know that nothing on the internet is ever truly gone. However, the point of deleting something is to make it disappear for good… or at least to make it very, very hard to find. So, the best way to protect your family online is to move forward, not backwards. Tighten the parental controls. Put wifi capable devices in public places. Have frank conversations with your children about using technology responsibly.

Having said that, this is the best way to try to recover deleted browser history.

 

Windows: System Restore

System restore will take your computer back to an earlier date. This will affect your computer’s system files, BUT NOT YOUR COMPUTER’S DATA FILES (meaning that it is not a way to recover pictures/documents/videos saved on your computer).

(Note: The system restore instructions are paraphrased from wikihow.com)

1) Search for “system restore” in your Start menu

2) Follow the options and select the date to which you want your computer to revert.

3) You should be able to read your browsing history as it was on that date.

 

Mac: Time machine

(Note: The Time Machine instructions are taken from maciverse.com)

On a Mac, you have to enable the Time Machine program and select a back up place to recover your browser history. If you have already done so, you will be able to recover Safari and Firefox browser history on a Mac. Unfortunately, users have had mixed results using any process to recover Chrome browser history.

1) Close Safari/Chrome/Firefox and open Finder

2) Select your user account under Places

3) Open the library folder, then the Safari/Chrome/Firefox folder

4) Open Time Machine and select the date you would like to restore your browser history from

5) Select the history.plist folder and hit Restore

6) When asked if you want to proceed, click Replace

7) You should now be able to open Safari/Chrome/Firefox and view your restored history.

 

Obviously, monitoring browser history is NOT a foolproof way to keep tabs on your kids’ online activities. Make sure your family knows your internet values and house rules. Encourage constant dialogue about internet safety and content. This area is not so different than any other area of parenting; communication and a strong relationship are key. It may seem daunting, but you CAN instill positive media values and internet street smarts in your children.

 

Order your Clean Router today!Learn more tips to keep your kids safe online

 

internet use affects teen grades

Boys and girls waste time differently online but hurt GPAs similarly, study says

The internet / grade connection is real

 

Everyone knows teenagers spend a lot of time on the internet and most of that time is less than productive. AND it’s not hard to guess wasting time online isn’t good for the GPA. It’s not even a surprise that boys and girls engage in different online activities. But Taiwanese researchers Su-Yen Chen and Yang-Chih Fu wanted to know if different online activities effect boys’ and girls’ grade point averages differently.

 

In their 2009 study “Internet Use and Academic Achievement: Differences in Early Adolescence,” Su-Yen Chen and Yang-Chih Fu analyzed Taiwanese eighth graders’ internet usage. Unsurprisingly, girls spent more time socializing online, and boys spent more time gaming. This difference is also encouraged in Taiwan by internet cafes focused on online gaming and mostly frequented by young men.
Researchers then examined the correlation between certain activities (gaming, socializing, and searching for information) and the entrance exam scores. They found that gaming was associated with lower boys’ scores, and that socializing was associated with lower girls’ scores. However, gaming didn’t seem to negatively impact the girls’ scores, and socializing didn’t seem to hurt the boys’ scores. Searching for information was associated with higher test scores in both genders.

 

What can we learn from these results?

 

In spite of the gender generalizations made by this study, the most helpful take-away seems to be that internet activities effect different people differently. Online shopping might teach valuable lessons about marketing and business to one person but might just be a waste of time and money to another person. Short periods of gaming could help one person unwind and practice self-discipline (ie learning to turn the game off when appropriate) or be a dangerous addictive distraction to someone else.
Teenagers need to learn how to use the internet responsibly. Clean Router can provide limits that can help that learning process (click here for more information).  But parents also need to help teenagers develop self-awareness and self-discipline. Teenagers have to know when to work, when to play, and simply when enough is enough. These principles apply “in real life” as well, of course. But the addictive nature of technology necessitates a deeper recognition of growing dependency. It’s too easy to sit down and let hours fly by while one is clicking away. By helping teenagers learn these skills, parents are preparing their children to be responsible, independent adults.

 

That’s just good parenting.

 

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An all-in-one solution for safe and fast wireless internet!

SuperbCrew, a business news website covering innovative companies, just featured an interview with Clean Router CEO Spencer Thomason! They covered Clean Router’s origin story (superhero style :D) and talked about why Clean Router stands out among competitors.

 

Here are our favorite parts of the interview:

 

How we’re unique

“Our competitors require you to install software on each device and jump through a bunch of hoops. The CleanRouter is very unique in that it’s an actual physical device – a wireless router. You simply plug it in, and it automatically protects all of the devices in your home.”

 

The shout-out to our awesome support team

“We have a great US-based support team ready to assist you with just about anything. Call, email, or use the live chat on our website – we’d love to hear from you!”

 

And the very first moments of Clean Router magic

 “The first prototypes ended up working so well, I knew I had created something special. I just had to get these into the hands of families across the country.”

 

Read the full interview here!

 

Ready to protect your family with Clean Router?

 

 

Order your Clean Router today!

 

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Teens are spending more time on screens and enjoying life less

It may seem like today’s teens only enjoy screen-related activities, but researchers say the excessive screen time is keeping them from enjoying much of anything.

 

Researchers from the University of Southern California wanted to understand a previously documented correlation between teens’ screen time and substance use. They believed that anhedonia, the reduced ability to experience pleasure or enjoy previously favored activities, may explain why teens who spend more time on their screens are more likely to use controlled substances. Anhedonia is a common symptom of depression, and other research had pointed to a relationship between screen time and decreased mental health.

 

The study surveyed over a thousand fourth graders four times over the course of three years about their screen time and anhedonia. As the researchers had thought, the teens who spent more time on their screens were more likely to experience anhedonia. The teens who experienced anhedonia were also more likely to engage in substance use, thus confirming the theory that anhedonia was a factor in the correlation between screen time and substance use.

 

It’s a phenomenon we have all experienced, on a small scale at least. After finishing an episode of a tv show, the most attractive activity is another episode. After a morning of binge-watching Netflix, it’s hard to feel motivated to get up and go for a hike. The more we invest in social media, the more reality feels dull and colorless in comparison. We’ve all seen children often wander in circles after Mom turns off the tv. Real life is slower, understated, and less flashy than life plugged in.

 

When we understand better how our brains work, and how stimuli affect our brains, it allows us to go through life aware and equipped to take control. We can second-guess our lack of desire to unplug and remind ourselves of the joys of in-person interaction, the outdoors, physical exercise, and more. Mindfulness helps us see through the brain fog and remind ourselves who we really want to be.

 

You can read the study here.

 

Ready to help your family unplug?

 

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How to parent in a digital world– FREE Webinar!!

Hi, I’m Caryn, and I handle business development at Clean Router.

 

Hi, I’m Rachel, and I’m social media manager at Clean Router.

 

But we’re also moms, and we want to talk to you moms to mom (or moms to dad) today. I have two teenagers. My kids used to spend way too much time on the internet, and we never really knew what they were doing or seeing online. They would flop on the couch or their beds with their phones after school every day and stay there for hours!

 

 

I have three kids ages four, two, and seven months. When my oldest  child was born, I was amazed how quickly she started reaching for my phone! I thought online safety and screen time limits were for moms with older kids, but my toddlers can’t get enough of smartphones and tablets. My four year old is almost as tech savvy as I am, and my two year old can go from app to app in seconds. Even the crawling baby will “sprint” across the floor to get to a device!

 

 

Last year we attended a seminar at my daughter’s junior high where an assistant chief of police and his partners talked about the dangers of the internet. He explained how popular websites and apps make sex trafficking so much easier for predators. They see cases where predators talk to kids online, gain their trust, and convince kids to meet them. He told us the average age that a child is exposed to pornography is age nine.  NINE!! I was scared to death! My 8th grade daughter had a phone, a laptop, and an iPad. My 6th grade son had an iPad. My kids are smart, and I thought I could trust their good hearts to keep them out of trouble. I realized then that as smart and good as my kids are, I can’t expect them to outsmart adults with years of experience grooming and manipulating children.

 

Clean Router for Every Device in Your Home

 

My toddlers and I like to watch animal videos or clips of Disney movies on YouTube. They love getting to be the one to hold the device and pick the next video. When I read online about disturbing YouTube videos featuring characters from children’s media, I was horrified! As closely as I watch my kids on their devices, I worried that they would be faster than me or that I could be fooled by a misleading thumbnail. I know I can’t shelter my kids forever, but preserving their innocence until kindergarten doesn’t seem too much to ask!

 

 

We may work for a router company, but neither of us is a computer whiz. 

 

You’ve got that right! But it doesn’t take a computer science degree or IT experience to keep your kids safe online. We at Clean Router have put together a webinar with easy internet safety tips any parent can implement!

 

 

Best of all, it’s FREE!

 

The webinar, hosted by Spencer, our CEO, and Ryan, a member of our support team, will take about thirty minutes. They’ll review some statistics about pornography and internet safety and walk you through creating a plan to keep your kids safe online. You will get a chance to ask questions about internet safety, and there will even be a prize at the end!

My family has created an internet safety plan that works for us. It’s simple enough that my toddlers understand the rules, and it’s easy and practical enough for me to keep in place on the craziest days.

 

I put my kids’ devices on a schedule. Now they sleep better at night and we spend more time together as a family during the day!

 

Sign up now for our next free live event!

 

Order your Clean Router today!
Learn tips to keep your kids safe online

Apple Bans Parental Control Apps. Here’s what you need to know!

Apple has recently banned some of the most popular parental control apps from the App Store. (Update: Apple retracted the anti-MDM policy on June 4, 2019.) The remaining apps in the store have removed the ability to provide effective parental controls. We created CleanRouter because we believed parents should have control over the amount of screen time and content on their children’s devices. We still do.

 

What can you do to protect your family? Our Child App for Android and iOS are distributed via our internal infrastructure and NOT through Apple’s App Store. Our Child App has the following features:

  • Enable or disable specific apps
  • Enable time restrictions
  • Turn the device’s internet off and on
  • CleanBrowser, which replaces Safari, Chrome, etc., to provide safe browsing on your Clean Router network or a 4G connection

 

How do you get started? Our Child App is included in the mobile subscription, so Clean Router users on this plan can contact support to get started! Email us at support@cleanrouter.com,  call 520-445-4673 during our regular service hours of 7am-7pm MST (Arizona time) weekdays, 10am-4pm Saturday, or use the live chat feature on our website, CleanRouter.com! Families with the basic subscription, now is a great time to upgrade! Contact us today using any of the methods above!

 

If you have been following the controversy surrounding this story, you may have read about a technology called Mobile Device Management, or MDM. After meeting all of Apple’s requirements, including applying for several licenses, we have implemented the use of MDM in our Child App. It’s the only way to give parents the ability to see what apps are on their kids’ devices and allow or block those apps. For reasons Apple has not disclosed, the use of MDM is permitted on Apple devices, but the distribution of apps using MDM through the App store is now prohibited. Other articles have pointed out how this decision coincides with the release of Apple’s new parental controls feature, Screen Time. We will not comment on Apple’s possible motives.

 

Of course, families should guard their online privacy closely and choose their parental controls software with great care. Clean Router only gathers and uses the necessary data for the Child App to function properly. We also do not share or sell data to third parties. We have followed and will continue to follow the policies put in place by both Apple and Google. If you ever have any questions or concerns about your Clean Router, please contact us using any of the methods listed above.

 

Clean Router remains dedicated to providing families with online peace of mind.

 

Order your Clean Router today!
Learn tips to keep your kids safe online

 

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Forget Momo, here’s what parents really need to understand about YouTube

If you clicked on this article hoping to read about Momo, you are in the wrong place. The horrifying creature has already gotten more attention than she (it?) deserves, and I’d rather not waste any more words on her. And I certainly won’t be including any pictures.

 

Momo captures every parent’s worst fear about the internet, so the story has understandably caught fire online, but she (it?) has not changed anything about YouTube. The reality of the dangers of YouTube are larger than any one threat of questionable veracity.

 

But I just emerged from under a rock and have no idea what you’re talking about!! What’s Momo?? Pleeaassee??

 

Fine.

 

Momoisaterrifyingpossiblyfemaleprobablyfictionalcharacterthatappearsinthemiddleofseeminglyinnocentvideosofcartooncharactersandtellskidstohurtthemselvesandthreatenstheirparents’livesiftheytell.

 

Ok, that’s all the time I’m giving this subject. Moving on…

 

It does not matter if Momo is real or a hoax. Well, it matters to YouTube, law enforcement, and filtering companies like us, Clean Router. But for parents, nothing has changed. YouTube is still a microcosm of the internet as a whole: fun, weird, educational, dumb, incredibly useful, dangerous, uplifting, and capable of wasting hours of your family’s time. With that said, there are some specific aspects of YouTube parents need to understand to protect their families.

 

1) Filtering options exist, but they are not foolproof

Our CleanYouTube is awesome. YouTube Kids is pretty good. Neither are a replacement for parental supervision. Because billions of people can and do add content daily, filters have a hard time keeping up with all the new content. Block YouTube and any alternative your family uses. When your kids access YouTube, insist they do so in a public area of your home with an adult present. Kids think they won’t run into trouble because they are not looking for it; parents may think the same. But the reality is…

 

2) YouTube has gotten sneakier

Not the company themselves, but the users who upload inappropriate content. Obviously the “Girls Gone Wild” videos are trouble, but seemingly innocent options can have yucky surprises. It’s been well-documented over the past few years that videos of popular cartoon characters like Peppa the Pig and Elsa engaging in disturbing behaviors have flooded YouTube and are even slipping by YouTube Kids’ filters. The thumbnail and title contain no hint of the inappropriate content– there is literally no way to know if the video is ok until it’s too late. Gone are the days when raunchy sidebar videos were the most insidious YouTube threat.

 

3) Keeping your kids safe on YouTube requires more vigilance than other online content

Because disturbing YouTube content appears out of the clear blue, visiting YouTube is just more risky than accessing other parts of the internet. For parents, this probably means setting stricter rules. As suggested above, blocking YouTube is wise, especially with an option that allows temporary access with a password, like Clean Router. If you normally require kids to use computers and mobile devices in public areas of your home, you may want to require an adult in the room while using YouTube. You might allow some unstructured web surfing, but make your kids tell you exactly what they will be watching on YouTube, then leave the site when their video is finished. If you choose to allow younger children to watch YouTube videos, you should probably be next to them. On YouTube, secrets and privacy should be nonexistent.

 

Specific internet threats come and go, but the overall danger level of the internet and particularly YouTube stays more or less the same. Even if a scary face is not currently on the front page of Google News, pornography and other disturbing content still exists online, only a few clicks away from your kids. Parents, embrace the cat videos, because if your kids are watching, you should be too.

 

Ready to protect your family with Clean Router?

 

Order your Clean Router today!Learn tips to keep your kids safe online

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Establishing Safeguards to Prevent Legal Trouble Online: A guest post from Carver, Cantin & Mynarich

As parents, we know excessive screen time and online mischief can impact our kids’ physical and mental health, grades, spirituality, and values. What we often forget or don’t realize, though, is getting into trouble online can have legal consequences for our kids. Today’s guest post from Carver, Cantin & Mynarich offers their legal perspective on why we need to keep our kids safe online.

 

Today’s children are the first digital natives. They were born into a world surrounded by digital devices- the perfect tools for education, communication, and entertainment. Unfortunately, the internet is also a dangerous world with issues ranging from cyber-bullying to inappropriate content. Here are a few ways parents can keep their children safe online and help them avoid legal trouble.   

 

Begin by limiting online time. The longer a child is exposed to digital media, the greater the chance of being exposed to its harmful effects. Several of the harmful effects of lengthy screen time include obesity from a sedentary lifestyle, sleep problems, and behavioral problems like bullying, learning developments, and violence. Additionally, more screen time means more time to find inappropriate content or get into other trouble online.    

 

So, just how much screen time is too much? According to the Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children under the age of 18 months should not be exposed to any. Those between 18 to 24-months can be exposed to very limited amounts, while those between 2 to 5-years can handle just one hour of supervised exposure. Beyond the age of 5, an allowance of no more than two hours per day is recommended.

 

Next, parents should monitor online time. Besides exposure time, parents need to determine the quality of the content their children consume. They should help their children choose positive educational content and talk about how to make good choices online. This could entail helping kids discern what is “fake news,” putting in place parental controls to ensure kids aren’t looking at overly-sexualized or other age-inappropriate content, or just talking about things online that might interfere with their emotional, physical, or mental well-being. Moreover, parents should watch programs with their children and discuss what they are watching. This will not only help parents monitor what their kids are doing, it will also help teach their kids the boundaries of what is and isn’t appropriate.

 

Consider installing protective software. Given that adults aren’t available 100% of the time to monitor what kids are watching, protective technology can be really helpful. There are a myriad of technologies that can protect them from potentially harmful content. One such tool is Clean Router. This enables parents to manage and monitor all digital devices in their home. As such, it blocks internet pornography, filters Youtube, enforces time restrictions, and logs all activity.

 

Finally, when it comes to your kids’ online time, be consistent with rules and consequences. One of the negative effects of online exposure to inappropriate content is violence, which includes physical and emotional bullying.

 

Cyberbullying is on the rise, especially among teenagers. It is bullying carried out via digital technologies, such as texts, emails, and social media. Among other things, bullying can cause low self-esteem, drugs and alcohol abuse, poor grades in school, and physical and emotional health issues. Moreover, cyberbullying has serious legal ramifications.   

 

Kids also may not realize the danger of sharing personal information or photos online. This is especially true when it comes to sexting, which involves sharing sexually explicit content via digital devices. Your teenager may think they are just sending a cute picture to their significant other, but in some states, sexting between teens can be legally considered the distribution of child pornography. In fact, several states have specific laws on teen sexting. In Missouri, for example, distribution of a minor’s sexually explicit content can attract a one-year jail sentence and $1,000 fine.

 

With serious risks like this, it is critical that parents establish safeguards to protect their children online. Though the internet is an incredible resource, it also opens the door to emotional, physical, and legal risks, especially for kids and teens.

 

 Carver, Cantin & Mynarich are a team of criminal defense lawyers in Springfield, Missouri. The firm specializes in Internet crimes, along with serious felonies, criminal tax, death penalty prosecutions and a wide-range of other criminal cases. The firm is a 2017 and 2018 U.S. News & Best Lawyers Best Law Firm in America.

 

Thank you, Carver, Cantin & Mynarich!

 

Hey parents, ready for online peace of mind?

 

Order your Clean Router today!Learn tips to keep your kids safe online