Every parent wishes to keep their children safe, well and free from harm and danger. We teach them to be careful when crossing the road, wear a helmet and pads when skateboarding or cycling, don’t swim too far out … the list is endless.
Young children and teenagers can experience numerous educational, entertainment, social benefits online, but what can you do to protect them from threats, bullying or inappropriate content online?
The internet is now a part of everyday life and although you do not wish to frighten your child, you can provide the knowledge and skills required to prevent any possible dangers.
Here’s are a few tips to help you get started….
Discuss their online activity with your child
When your child begins to go online, have a relaxed, friendly chat about their interests, what they are watching, reading or who they are in contact with. If you find any safe sites that you feel they may be interested in, you can make suggestions. As they approach their teen years, maintain this good level of communication, and enquire on the sites they visit and apps they are using. Chat about what you think is appropriate and explain that this may be different for other people.
Always ensure that devices and screens are where you can see them.
Keep devices in a location at home where it’s easy to check what your child is viewing and doing online. Monitor their time online, particularly with younger children. With mobile devices, you can configure wi-fi settings and passwords to ensure they cannot go online without your consent. You can also make an agreement that there are no tablets, laptops, or gaming in bedrooms.
You can also consider checking browser histories after your child has been online to see what sites they are visiting. As children grow older, this will be more difficult as they will probably know how to clear their histories. This is another reason to open the lines of communication about online use at an early age.
Who are their online friends?
Children and young people can be naïve regarding who they are chatting with online. You should advise them to be extremely careful from an early age. If possible, become friends with your child’s social media contacts and regularly monitor their posts.
Advise them to protect their privacy
If they use social media sites, advise them of the risks of personal information or images being made public once they post it. They should be taught to be cautious and consider what they are sharing online. Advise them to stop for a moment before posting information and ask themselves if they would give this to a stranger. Would they want a stranger to have their name, phone number, home address, email, or the name of their school? If not, don’t post the information.
For more useful information on how to keep your children safe online, visit the UK Safer Internet Centre