The online world is an amazing place for young people to be creative, chat with friends and find useful information.
Your child might be spending a lot more time online at the moment, and that's understandable, but it's important to know there are lots of things you can do to keep your child safe when using the internet.
Here we share our 10 top tips for keeping your child safe online.
Encourage open discussion.
Discuss digital life with your children, offer your opinions and share your challenges. Let them know that they can come to you to discuss anything they’re unsure about.
Seek to understand your child’s online world, by asking them how their newest game works, how to upload that photo on to their favourite social media platform, or what the best feature is on the app they use most often.
Most platforms have ways that you can report inappropriate content or bullying behaviour. It’s important to help your child know how to report for themselves as well. You can find further info on this by visiting www.internetmatters.org, www.childnet.com or www.thinkuknow.co.uk.
If your child appears moody or anxious after being online this may suggest they are being cyberbullied or have experienced or seen something that has upset them. Encourage a discussion around this and support your child to come up with solutions.
If they have made a mistake online, reassure them that everything will be okay and you will sort it out together. It can be hard not to react when your child has posted or shared something that may have created an issue, but focus on the learning from the situation where possible.
Create rules together.
As a family, decide some appropriate rules around screen time and breaks. Some families have restrictions on device usage in certain rooms or at certain times of the day, while others may use parental controls on broadband or other devices. If children are involved in coming up with these, they will feel more empowered.
Educate on risks.
Ensure your child is clear about the difference between real in-person friendships and online 'friends' and 'followers'. Discuss the risks of talking to strangers online and of sharing personal details, thoughts and feelings.
Provide your child with information of places they can seek advice and support, including other friends and family, and organisations like NSPCC and Childline. Though they should see you as their first port of call, older children in particular may not want to share everything with you, and may benefit from outside help.
Be kind to yourself.
Particular during lock down, home life can be very difficult for parents – with lots of challenges like managing screen time, organising homeschooling and prioritising your own wellbeing. Remember these are exceptional times and cut yourself some slack!
Setting up parental controls
Parental controls are helpful to protect children from inappropriate content. This guide from the UK Safer Internet Centre gives you information about setting up parental controls. 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.
By Tom Bucher, Kidscape Programmes and Volunteering Manager
Visit our advice pages for more information and support.