With school out for Summer, hopefully there’ll be lots of time for fun and games in the sun!
But sometimes we all need a little down-time in the shade and perhaps the odd device may be brought out for a relaxing minute or two..!
With technology continuing to advance at a sometimes terrifying pace, keeping up-to-date with what our children are doing online can be a daunting prospect.
Whatever the age of your children, here are a few technical hints and tips for you to keep them as safe as possible online.
1. Manage Online Access
When they’re little, you can keep tabs on when and where your children are accessing the internet by setting passwords on all internet-enabled devices. This will also ensure they’re not able to make purchases when playing games or using apps. Just remember not to share those passwords! You can also set your homepage to a child-friendly site like CBeebies and create a user account for your child on the family computer or device which only allows access to sites you’ve chosen.
2. Set parental controls
Parental controls can be installed on your home broadband and most internet-enabled devices to allow you to manage the content your child can view and how they interact with others online. Internetmatters.org provides you with a handy guide to setting parental controls here.
3. Use Safe Search Engines
Search engines such as Swiggle or Kids-search are safe for children to use and can easily be added to your ‘Favourites’. Safe search settings can also be activated on Google and other search engines, as well as YouTube.
4. Use airplane mode
When using an app, it’s a good idea to set your device to airplane mode so your children can’t make any surprise purchases or interact with anyone online without you knowing.
5. Stay safe out & about
It’s worth noting that, if your child is accessing the internet using public WiFi, the safety features may not be activated. Some providers are part of family friendly WiFi schemes, such as Mumsnet Family Friendly WiFi and RDI Friendly WiFi, with filters to block inappropriate content, so look out for their symbols when you’re on the move.
6. Set controls on new devices
You’ll soon reach the point when you feel that your child – & possibly you! – will benefit from them having their own device. Whatever device you choose, there are free controls you can use to stop your child from purchasing and using certain apps, seeing certain content, or limiting what they can share with others, like their location, for example.
As your children turn into teenagers, you can always discuss and adjust your parental controls to match their level of maturity.
7. Age Ratings
Many games, apps, films and social networks do have age ratings so, before downloading them, do check that they are appropriate for your child to use. For Facebook & Instagram, for instance, the minimum age limit is 13.
8. Privacy settings
Once your children are old enough to use social networking sites, it is a good idea to spend time together looking at the privacy settings. It’s always best to assume that default settings are public and should be changed to private. Your child can set privacy settings on most social networking sites so that only close friends can search for them, tag them in a photograph or share what they’ve posted.
9. Blocking software
There are a range of new apps and software that block, filter and monitor online behaviour, such as Net Nanny. We suggest you decide whether this is the right approach for your family, taking into consideration your child’s age and maturity, as well as their need for privacy.
So, as you can see there is a great deal of technology out there to help you keep your loved ones safe online but, above all, we would encourage you to try to keep the conversation with your children about their online use open and honest and for you to review it with them periodically. You can start discussions about the benefits and risks of social networking at an early age, encouraging them to only accept friend requests from people they actually know; to only like and follow genuine pages; to keep private information private; to respect themselves and others online; and to let you know of anything that is worrying or upsetting them at all. As they get older, you can also remind them how important it is not to give in to peer pressure to send inappropriate comments or images. Apps such as Zipit can help them deal with these situations.
If you have any queries about the above, please contact us on 0118 976 7111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.