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3 ways to keep kids in Asia Pacific safer online

a graphic illustration of 2 adults and 2 children playing together, surrounded by icons of a lock, a shield, a keyhole, a fingerprint, and a smartphone

As a working father with two kids who grew up in the digital era — and as a professional working in online safety outreach and engagement for the last 17 years — I’ve seen the huge impact technology has had on parenting.

Like many parents in Asia Pacific, I know there are benefits technology can bring to children's growth and learning. However, I’m also aware of the potential dangers when children aren’t exposed to age-appropriate content and online scams. The good news is that, according to our latest Asia Pacific Kids & Families Online Safety Survey, the majority of Asia Pacific’s parents (78%) feel confident talking to their kids about online safety.

Using parental controls

This year’s survey showed that the most common online safety issue for children is seeing inappropriate content online, occurring at least once to 61% of children (compared to 54% last year); followed by seeing misinformation, deceptive ads or spam, and violent content.

Text reads: “61% of children are encountering inappropriate content at least once this year, compared to 54% in 2022”. Accompanied by a graphic of a child wearing a hat and backpack looking at a smartphone.

Parents can activate age-appropriate content restrictions on Google Play and Search via Family Link. Or, another useful feature is SafeSearch— which is on by default for signed-in users under 18 and helps filter inappropriate, explicit and mature content. Its new blurring setting, which is now available to everyone, automatically blurs explicit imagery — such as adult or graphic violent content — by default when it appears in Search results.

Gif reads “Google helps you manage what your kids discover online, filter explicit content from search results with Safe Search.“ accompanied by an illustration of two people holding a magnifying glass and a closeup of a smartphone screen with the SafeSearch feature

Modifying ground rules with time

As children grow older, parents may need to adjust their digital ground rules. According to our survey, 69% of parents in Asia Pacific plan to change their house rules with time, and 49% will allow their children to spend more time online as they age. The majority of these parents use technology to support their children's education, help them explore their interests, and find high-quality educational content.

Text reading: “69% of parents in Asia Pacific expect to change their rules for internet use as their child gets older”, accompanied by a graphic of a child and adult looking at each other.

Parents are also learning how to use technology to keep up. For example, apps like Family Link allow parents to easily set digital ground rules and manage screen time.

Gif reads “Google gives you tools to help keep your family safer online, establish digital ground rules with Family Link app“ accompanied by an illustration of the Family Link app

Providing safer online exploration

I like to tap into technology to complement my children’s outside-classroom learning. Often, I use already existing apps and tools designed for kids and teens. For example, YouTube Kids provides a more contained and curated environment for kids to explore on YouTube, making it easier for parents and caregivers to guide that process. Meanwhile, supervised experience on YouTube becomes handy, allowing parents who have decided their tween or teen is ready to explore more of YouTube to do so through a supervised Google Account.

Gif reads “YouTube helps you decide what’s best for your family, supervise your child’s exploration through a parent-managed version, create a supervised Google Account for YouTube,“ accompanied by an illustration of two adults looking at a child with a laptop, and the YouTube interface on a mobile screen

Parents across Asia Pacific also flagged concerns around their children oversharing information on social media (45% at least once) and receiving unwanted attention from strangers (38% at least once). That’s why, in addition to using technology with built-in protection, it’s crucial to educate children through resources like the free digital literacy curriculum Be Internet Awesome.

Gif reads “Google helps kids be safe, confident explorers online, learn online safety together in our free-to-use Interland game.“ accompanied by an illustration of a child looking at a smartphone screen, and the user interface of a smartphone game

Embracing technology with guardrails for safe, reliable content and also empowering kids to make informed decisions are essential in today’s digital parenting. Together, we can help our children stay safe and thrive in the online world.

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