The internet is a fantastic resource with its millions of websites, apps, games and online communities, and just like thousands of other parents, I want my child to learn how to use it safely and responsibly. Unfortunately, it’s nigh on impossible to watch what our children are doing every minute they’re online.
The increase in use of mobile devices in particular makes it even harder to keep tabs on what they’re watching or playing when they are out of sight. So, how can we help our children to stay safe on-line?
n Start discussing online safety at an early age. Explain that just like the real world, there are safe and unsafe things on the internet. Some good questions to make the point are: If you leave the house, would you leave the front door open? Would you tell a complete stranger all your deepest secrets?
- Talk about protecting private information and never sharing passwords with anyone, even friends. Advise them that for extra protection they should create different passwords for different sites.
- Try to avoid having your child use the computer or device whilst hidden away. It is best to set up a computer in a family room with the screen facing outwards.
- Do read website and app ratings before allowing your children to visit or download them. If you wish to see which websites your child has been visiting, look at the browser history.
- Let your child know that it is perfectly OK to tell you, a teacher or another adult they trust if they are not happy about something they’ve seen or been asked to do whilst online.
- Ask them not to download files (music, games, movies or pictures) or install software or apps without asking. Turning off in-app purchasing capabilities on all devices should help.
- Ensure parental control software is installed on your devices. This will restrict the sites your child can access and prevent them from sharing sensitive information, such as name, age, address, phone number etc. Should your child accidentally access an unsuitable website, delete it from the ‘history’ folder and add the address to the Parental Control Filter List.
n It is important to install internet security software on all devices and make sure it is regularly updated.
For further helpful advice, we recommend the following websites:
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