Staying safe online is a huge task for employers, parents, and teachers. Most children these days have higher skills in general than adults when online. However, it’s the responsibility of all of us to keep children safe, so here are a few tips to mention:
The internet is a great tool for learning, connecting and entertaining, but it's important that we ensure children are staying safe online, and keeping their experience an enjoyable one. Read below for our top tips on how to help keep children safe online.
1. Age targeted content
As with films, online games and content are age-targeted for a reason. It’s your decision if you stick with this or not. So, make your decision and apply the necessary filters such as:
- BBC iPlayer kids
- YouTube kids
- Netflix kids
- Age-appropriate games
This will keep you in control of what children are viewing and if they want to view more, they will need to seek an adult’s permission.
Mobile and smartphones are everywhere, and the access to these types of devices and who has them is getting younger. Essentially, they are mini mobile computers and aren’t always within an adult’s sight or reach.
Some tools available on these devices to monitor and manage children’s screen time and safety, include Google Family Link, Life360, Screen Time, and Find My. These are all worth looking into and make the device much more protected, as you know where the child is and can also manage screen time and the use of apps.
3. Social media
Social media platforms continue to grow and change audiences constantly. For example, children and young people don’t really access Facebook anymore, they generally prefer Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok. Whereas adults still use Facebook plus other apps.
Adults need to make sure their children know that posts shared on social media are for the world to see. Educate children on the risks of having a public account, before setting their accounts up and make sure their privacy settings are up to date. There are many support sites and safety awareness programmes, training and sites for adults to ensure everyone is kept safe, including SWGfl and Trend Micro.
4. Talk openly about online safety
It's important to have regular conversations with children about online safety, so that they know to speak up if they see or experience something out of the ordinary. Make sure children are aware of what a safe and normal internet experience is like, and what they should expect when using the internet. Making sure to ask them questions about what activities they do online, what sites they visit, and who they talk to, can help uncover any abnormalities in their experiences, or any causes for concern. Making sure that using the internet is a family activity can help keep the conversation open, and may help children to feel more comfortable talking about any negative experiences.
5. Set and agree upon boundaries
Make sure that you have boundaries with children when it comes to the internet. This may include ensuring that children know how long they can spend online per day or week, and what websites they are allowed to visit. Agree these boundaries as a family, to keep it fair and make sure that everyone is in agreement.
6. Understand who they're talking to and what sites they're visiting
Ensure you've got a good understanding of the sites or games children are playing, so you can be aware of any potentially harmful content, or any instances where children may be able to contact and speak to others online. Making sure that the correct settings are in place so that children can only talk with people they know in real life is important, and ensure that children know not to speak to strangers online.
Safer Internet Day takes place in February and it's aim is to raise awareness of the importance of staying safe online and ensure children can use technology safely. Find out more about the day, along with a wide range of useful resources for teachers, parents and more here.