Protecting your child online
Online risks can seem scary, but there are plenty of practical things you can do to keep your child safe online.
Set up parental controls
Parental controls are helpful to protect children from inappropriate content. Be mindful that parental controls are not the whole solution to online safety; they’re a supplement to the conversations you’re having with your child.
How to set up parental controls
Making things safer at home
The step-by-step parental controls guides from Internet Matters will help you to set up the right controls and privacy settings on the networks, gadgets, apps, and sites they use to give them a safer online experience.
This guide from the UK Safer Internet Centre also gives you information about setting up parental controls.
Have an open conversation
Communication is key to online safety, and it’s something which you should discuss with your child, even from a young age. Have regular conversations together about what you can do to stay safe online.
Make sure your child knows that they can talk to you about anything that’s bothering them and they can talk to you if they see or experience anything online that worries them, upsets them, or doesn’t feel quite right. Let them know you’re on their team, and you’ll help them.
Let your child educate you
Be curious about what apps your child is using, what games they’re playing, who they’re talking to online. Let them teach you how it works. You can’t be expected to be a digital wizard, and your child knows more than you about their online world. Let them having fun teaching you!
Explore online safety together
Encourage your child to report unsafe or bullying content, and explore how to do this together. Talk about options for solving problems and find out what they’d like to happen. You’re in this together.
The importance of privacy settings
Although there are age restrictions on many social media platforms, children and young people may not always follow these. There are also risks for any of us whether a child or adult in having a social media profile. If we don't have the right privacy settings applied (or if these are not available), our private information may be available to many people, making us more vulnerable to bullying.
Set appropriate boundaries
Familiarise yourself with parental controls, and use them. Discuss boundaries with your child, and set boundaries on screen time too. It’s particularly important to reduce screen time at bedtime so your child can get a good sleep.
Do fun, offline activities as a family
Put down your phones and tablets and do something together! Spend some quality time offline.
Be a role model
Your child is learning from you. Set a positive example - set screen time boundaries for yourself, too, and make sure your child sees that you are polite and kind to others, both face to face and online. Understanding your family's digital habits is a great way to lead on screen time boundaries, encouraging a family agreement rather than dictating rules.
We have developed a Family Digital Wellbeing Check-In resource, which promotes healthy online interactions and open conversation.
Join a workshop on online safety
You can also book a place on one of our online safety and cyberbullying workshops. In the workshop, we offer support on cyberbullying, sexting, gaming, managing screen time and more.