In recent years the darkweb has garnered more and more attention in the mainstream media, and it is probably quite likely that your children now know at least something about it or possibly how it actually works. The darkweb is quite simply an anonymous network on the internet that is virtually untraceable and allows anonymity via encrypted messages. It can only be accessed by a special browser called Tor. Of course, Tor has some very legitimate and legal uses – such as organising protests (the “Arab Spring” was largely organised via the darknet) – however the lack of safeguards on the Tor Browser can make it more difficult to keep them safe.
Here is a run down on 5 ways to improve online safety for your children.
This first one is pretty simple: You can download easy to use software for Mac such as ContentBarrier (or Wefisy for Windows users) which allow you to block Tor Browser (or Opera) with one-click. The great thing about these programs is that it allows you to block very specific applications instead of having to sort through and block individual websites.
Ideally you should just sit down and have a frank discussion about how to use the internet in general – not just the darkweb – with your children. Pornography and graphic violence can be found on the ‘clearnet’ (e.g google search) too. But it is especially important with the darknet and the Tor Browser, because there literally no safeguards against some seriously atrocious content. It is extremely easy to download Tor browser and find darknet sites within minutes, even for those though don’t consider themselves computer savvy.
Monitor their Paypal and Bank Accounts Regularly
Whilst you should respect your children’s privacy (depending on their age), it is perfectly reasonable to lay down a ground rule about having a right to look through their monthly bank statements and/or paypal transactions. This is because the vast majority of Bitcoin – the virtual currency used on darknet marketplaces to buy things anonymously – is bought via bank transfer or less commonly paypal. Things to look out for our strange amounts of money being sent to unknown accounts on internet banking.
Hard and Fast Rules
At the end of the day, you can create rules such as no downloading files without consent, or asking for permission first to download and use an anonymous browser. To appear less controlling, you can feign interest in what they are doing online and take a look at what they want to use. If you come across as a kind of dictator and ban these things outright, many kids (especially teens) will likely just rebel against you and find even more dangerous ways to access unsuitable and dangerous sites or even things like illegal drugs.
Limit Time Spent Online
Setting a time limit for your kids internet activity means it is less likely they will stray onto darknet marketplaces since it takes some time to turn money into Bitcoin. Besides, setting a time limit on the internet gives them numerous benefits besides this, such as allowing your children to get more exercise and have positive interactions with you and friends.
So, here you can see with a little bit of effort you can give your child (or children) several layers of protection aside from just software, which should give you much more peace of mind about how they are using the internet.