Top 10 online safety tips
Children love to be online – on the tablet, on the phone, on your laptop (when you’re trying to work!) So let’s make the experience as safe as it is fun. Here’s 10 tips inspired by our partner, UNICEF, to help parents keep kids safe in the digital world.
Talk about online safety
Have an open chat about what they’re doing online. Be positive and show you’re here to listen. Talk about which safe, age-appropriate platforms, websites and social media they can use. Check if they’re worried about anything and ask about their online friends.
Agree boundaries up front
Discuss and agree on how much time they spend online, playing games and chatting, and how long they need for school or homework. Maybe no devices at dinner for parents or children, or no devices after a certain time, is a good idea.
Encourage positive social values
Respect, empathy, and a little ‘give and take’ can help to keep children safe online. Talk to them about how the way they behave online could affect others. Encourage them to be kind and respectful to classmates, to be mindful of what clothes they wear, and to avoid joining video calls from a bedroom.
Use online safety tools
Most browsers and search engines have a Safe Search option under ‘Settings’. And you can use parental controls on devices, especially for younger children. Keep your child’s data and privacy safe in settings and on social media.
Know where to seek help
If your child is distressed from being online, or you find unwanted sexual content, or feel they may be at sexual risk, most social media and apps have built-in reporting tools. Visit the FAQ or Help section for details, or use a national hotline or the Internet Watch Foundation.
Find someone you both trust
Accept that your child may not be comfortable speaking to you, as a parent, about some of the things they encounter online. If this is the case, identify someone you both trust, who they can talk to if they ever feel the need.
Understand the privacy risks
Check the privacy policies of the video and communication tools they’re using. Or get key information by searching the app’s privacy risks. Set privacy settings to ‘high’ and switch off ‘location’ in new apps. Regularly update their devices to the latest software and anti-virus programs and be cautious of free online educational resources. Your child should never have to provide a photo or their full name.
Cover the camera
When they step away from the camera, the video may still be recording. So use a piece of tape or sticky note to cover the camera, to remind everyone in the family when the camera is on. Always ensure the video is turned off at the end of a session.
Respect your children’s privacy
Sharing family images and stories on social media is a way of staying connected, finding humor and seeking comfort. But be careful you don’t share photos that may compromise your child or affect their privacy and protection.
Play together, online
This is a great opportunity to engage with your child about their world and find out what’s important in their lives. Better still, online activities can often inspire offline games, challenges and exercise routines you can do together, to bond and stay close to one another.