Online safety advice for parents
The summer holidays are almost with us! Now is the perfect time to provide parents with help and advice on helping their children stay safe online during the long vacation. Share our top tips with parents in your end-of-term newsletter or via your school’s social media feeds.
A relationship built on trust
Your child will spend an enormous amount of their life online. You can’t monitor their activities all the time. So you must help them to develop ways to stay safe.
Trust works both ways. If you allow your child the freedom to spend time online, they may be less reluctant to ask you about things they don’t understand. Of course, you’ll want to ensure that your child doesn’t experience anything harmful, but try to keep your distance where possible.
Discuss how to stay safe online
Talk to your children about how they use the internet and ways to keep themselves safe online. It’s never too soon to start having these conversations. If your child uses the Internet, they need to know how to do so safely.
Try to share your children’s enthusiasm for their online activities. Get them to tell you how their favourite apps work. They might surprise you with the depth of their understanding of how to safely enjoy games, websites and social media. However, knowing how an app works does not mean that they understand what information they can share about themselves. They may not always recognise people they know online as friends leading them into dangerous territory.
Have age and experience appropriate conversations about the risks that the online world can present. Help your child devise a procedure for what to do when things go wrong.
For young children, stories such as the Digi Duck series and Smartie the Penguin provide a fun and non-threatening ways to talk about being safe online
The Safer Internet Centre have a great blog on how to have an open and honest online safety conversation
Review social media use and settings
Social media applications are a great way to keep in touch with friends over the holidays. Be sure to know which social media applications your child is using. Check who they are sharing their posts with and whether they have enabled their safety settings. The NSPCC has a great blog on children’s use of social media. They list each application’s main features and risks, and some top tips for helping your child use social media safely.
Your child is only a touch of a button away from downloading various inappropriate apps.
For younger children, the simplest way to prevent them from downloading harmful applications is to ensure their device’s app store is password protected. This way, they have to get you to log in before they can download any app.
For older children, you might want to give them a little more freedom and let them have their own accounts and password. Keep an eye on which mobile apps they are downloading.
Enable restricted mode on YouTube and SafeSearch on Search Engines to make finding inappropriate content more difficult. This approach is less stressful than trying to monitor your child’s use (or worse, always watching over their shoulder). It will allow your child to access the internet independently whilst reducing the risk of exposing them to inappropriate material. Internet Matters has some great ‘How to’ guides on setting up SafeSearch on all the major search engines and YouTube