As a parent or someone else with responsibility for a child or young person, you’ll be all too aware of the dangers they can be exposed to online. Children and young people are generally curious, sociable and impressionable to one degree or another. Under the right circumstances these are good qualities, but online, they could lead to being bullied, befriended by dangerous people or even lured into internet crime. These are occurrences that happen every day.
However, if you’re worrying about your family’s health, trying to work from home or concerned about job security during the current situation, there’s more chance these things will happen to your child, especially while they have more time on their hands and are spending longer online.
Unless you take the appropriate precautions.
Top tips for a switched-on parent
The Get Safe Online safety experts have put together some expert tips to help you keep the children and young people in your care safe and more aware of these dangers.
- Have regular conversations with your child about the positive and negative aspects of the internet in language appropriate to their age. Talk about stranger danger. Get them to show you what they’re doing and try it out for yourself. Gain a better understanding of new online technologies and trends. Don’t shy away from discussing potential issues, but not in a scary way. Keep it general so as not to get your child curious about specific sites. Check your facts beforehand.
- Set boundaries and rules from a young age, such as time limits and what’s out of bounds. Draw up an agreement with your child’s input to give them a degree of ownership. Lead the way by using your own mobile devices responsibly and at the right time.
- Chat with friends, family and other parents about how they help their children to progress and keep safe online. Swap experiences and tips.
- Do the tech: apply 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 internet service provider’s family filters.
- If your household is using technology for the first time for home schooling, try to familiarise yourself with the basics of how it works and do what you can to help your child avoid online harms.
- Check lower age limits of social networking, picture/video sharing, gaming and other sites and apps. 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.
- Keep yourself up to date with new game and social media trends, especially those with negative publicity, because they may be violent, encourage gambling or leave the way open for grooming.
- Explain and encourage safe searching and websites. Check what your child is watching on streaming sites like YouTube and STEAM.
- If your child wants a video call with friends, set it up for them observing the latest safety advice on updating the platform’s settings, using passwords and keeping knowledge of the call only within a group of friends they know.
- Talk to your child about the consequences of oversharing confidential information or personal details in posts, profiles, messages and chats. Consider what you share yourself: could it embarrass or endanger your children now or in the future?
- However well you know your child, ask yourself if they could be carrying out some kind of negative online activity that harms others, even if they do not realise it.
- Chat with them about things like bullying, trolling, shaming, creating/sharing fake news and being recruited into cybercrime.