The links provided on this page will supply you with guidance on every topic relating to child safety online; from online bullying to viewing explicit content and pornographic material. But in the first instance, the three below points are a good place to start when providing protection for your child online.
1. Have the conversation
Treat your child's online life as an extension of their "real life" so for example, ask them who their friends are online, what they do for fun, what do they like to watch and take an active interest in their online hobbies (as you would if they were out and about away from home). Ask how apps they like to use work and get a better understanding of what they can be used for. Try not to dismiss and overrule them when it comes to their online life and allow them to be part of the decision making, e.g. if there's an app you're worried about them using, open the floor to them and allow them to be part of the decision making process.
Having an open discourse around what your child is doing online may mean they don't try to conceal things from you and are happy to come to you and ask for advice/help if needed.
"Don't take sweets from strangers" - It is very important to educate and warn your children of the risks of the internet and those with sinister intentions who may use the internet in harmful ways. Informing and educating your child about the risks is something I'm sure you are doing, just as you would guide and warn them about dangerous people in the "real world".
2. Parental Controls
Taking the metaphor of real world safety measures, it's unlikely you would send your unaccompanied eight year old child into the world to visit dangerous places and speak to strangers for a few hours a day. Parental controls (as the title suggests) allow parents to control and filter content that reaches their child. You can set up parental controls on mobile phones, tablets, computers, internet, WiFi, games consoles, film/music/TV subscriptions and search engines. Along the left-hand side of this page you will see videos from popular broadband companies detailing how their parent controls work and for further help, please contact:
- call O2 NSPCC Advice Line on 0808 800 5002 for advice on apps, sites, games and online safety.
- visit an O2 Guru in store – trained advisors can help you set up parental controls.
- use Net Aware to have a look at the apps, sites and games children like to play online.
3. Limit time spent online
There is no right or wrong amount of screen time or time spent online - it's all relative to the task and the family. It is advisable to set a limit (that works for you as a family) that everyone must stick to... including parents! Sometimes switching off the device helps switch off the mind. Please see the below video of Áine Lynch (CEO of the National Parents Council – Primary) advising parents about how to manage screen time