If you’re children are like most children, they’ll probably be getting up and going to bed later. Playing out more. And if they’re lucky, you might be taking them away on holiday.
What’s almost certain is that they’ll be going online more than in term time … for entertainment, keeping in contact and chatting with their mates, gaming and the multitude of other things kids use the internet for.
With all the additional time spent doing more online, how can you be sure that the young people in
your family are safe from the issues they can encounter every day?
Get Safe Online has issued some timely tips for parents and carers to help children enjoy a safe and confident experience online:
- Chat regularly with your child about what they do online and get them to show you. Get to know about new technologies and trends. Talk about the potential negatives, like oversharing, seeing inappropriate content, cyberbullying, stranger danger, uncontrolled spending of money and being online for too long. Set a good example yourself.
- Steer your child towards safe searching, websites and apps. Check what they’re watching and/or sharing on streaming sites like YouTube and TikTok. Encourage them to use child-friendly platforms like YouTube Kids.
- Gaming, social media, picture/video sharing and many other apps and websites have lower age limits for a
reason, so you should make sure your child doesn’t access those for which they’re underage.
- Download apps only from recognised sources like App Store and Google Play. Add your own email address when setting up accounts and apps for your child.
- Discuss and agree boundaries and rules from a young age, including appropriate online usage, always being respectful and how much time they spend online. Empower them, but remember they don’t
have the experience or maturity to always make the right decisions.
- Consider setting up parental control software and apps on computers, mobile devices and games consoles, privacy features on social networking sites, safety options on search engines and safe location settings on devices and apps. Turn on your ISP’s family filters.
- Stay familiar with new game and social media trends, especially those attracting negative publicity because they may be violent, encourage gambling or leave the way open for messaging random
strangers, enabling potential grooming or other types of coercion.
- For video calls, ensure your child’s safety by updating to the platform’s latest version, following its safety
advice and checking that call invitations and replies can’t be seen by anybody outside the agreed call group.
- Online gaming is widely recognised as having many developmental benefits for young people, but talk to them about potential negatives like chatting to strangers, in-game purchases (like loot boxes, skins and cheats),and overdoing screen time.
- Talk to your child about misinformation, disinformation and fake news. Tell them not to believe or share everything they see or read, especially in these days of sponsored ‘news’ and AI-generated images, videos and text.
- Warn your child about confidential information, personal details and images/video about themselves or
others they share in posts, profiles, messages and chats. Consider what you share yourself.
- Without being controlling, keep an eye on your child’s online activities and know how to recognise the signs of something not being right. For example, criminals have exploited increased online use for recruiting children into illegal activities such as cybercrime and drug muling.
Get Safe Online is the UK’s leading source of information and advice on online safety and security for the public and small businesses. It is a not for profit, public/private sector partnership backed by law enforcement agencies and leading organisations in internet security, banking and retail.
For more information about keeping children and yourself safe online check out their website.