Tips for online safety
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.
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.
If you have children aged between 6 and 9, why not try our fun, free activities to talk
about online safety?
Discuss and agree on how much time they spend online playing games and chatting, and how long they need for school commitments or other activities. Agree together on no-screen time periods, e.g. at dinner, or create screen-free zones. You can even build something together to remember your common agreement throughout the day.
Respect, empathy and understanding that others might have different preferences than ourselves can help to keep children safe online. Talk to them about how the way they behave online can affect others. Encourage them to be kind and respectful both online and in real life, to be a good friend and to stand up for others, if they can.
Most browsers and search engines have a Safe Search option under ‘Settings’. Step-by-step guides on how to enable this feature can also be found through online searches. 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.
If your child is distressed from being online or you’re concerned about inappropriate content to contact with someone they don’t know, most social media platforms and apps have built-in tools to report this. Visit the FAQ or Help section for details, or visit Child Helpline International to find your national hotline, or speak to local law enforcement.
As a parent, accept that your child may not be comfortable speaking to you 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.
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.
When they step away from the camera, the video may still be recording. Use a piece of tape or a 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.
Sharing family images and stories on social media is a way of staying connected, finding humor and seeking comfort. But be mindful you don’t share photos that may compromise your child or affect their privacy and protection.
This is a great opportunity to engage with your child about their world and find out what’s important in their lives. Better yet, online activities can often inspire offline games, challenges and exercise routines you can do together, to bond and stay close to one another.