The internet is an amazing place for everyone – a whole world of discovery, learning and opportunities are at our fingertips. But it can also create a lot of worry for parents about how to keep children safe when they’re online.
Unfortunately, there’s a dark side to the internet, and without controls in place your children can stumble across things that may be inappropriate for them. Here are some ways you can keep your young children safe when they’re online.
Use the internet together
From videos to games, the best way to keep your family safe online is to use the internet together. Explore games as a family, discover what is and isn’t appropriate for your young person and ensure you put all the relevant settings and safety features in place.
In the same way you may instil boundaries in other areas of your child’s life, you need to do the same with technology and the use of online activities. Give a certain amount of time allowed and you monitor it, where possible. Utilise all of the available parental controls.
Talk openly about potential dangers
This is one of the most important things you can do as soon as your child begins to engage with technology and the internet. Even with filters and parental controls, the internet can still expose children to things they shouldn’t see. If they are old enough to understand, talk to them about the dangers of the internet. Make sure they feel able to come to you if they come across anything that scares them or they’re unsure about.
Only allow them to engage in age-appropriate content
Often, gaming is one of the first ways children are introduced to online activities, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are loads of educational websites that will support their learning and development. And in their early years of school they may well be encouraged to use them. When choosing any new game or app, always be mindful of the age rating – just like films, games have ratings depending on the suitability of the content for certain ages.
Know where to report if you need to
Websites have a safety/help centre and moderation services where you can make reports if you’re worried. If you’re concerned about any suspicious activity, such as someone contacting your child online, you can report this to CEOP (www.ceop.police.co.uk).