The internet is a huge part of everyday life and we are raising our children in an ever-increasing technological environment. Whilst internet access can provide children a platform to learn, create, and play it can also be a potentially hazardous tool and a problematic one for parents to navigate.
Children’s exposure to the internet is almost inevitable but as a parent you can focus on creating boundaries for their behaviour and experiences online. The most important thing to do is inform yourself and your child about safe internet use.
Parental Controls are one of the easiest steps to take in controlling/monitoring your child’s internet use. They can be used to block in-app purchases, remove access to particular content, stop the downloading of inappropriate apps, or manage how long your child spends online. Parental controls are both easy to set up and can be set up on a variety of devices such as; tablets, phones, laptops, and home broadband. For more information on Parental Controls and installing them visit the NSPCC website; https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/parental-controls/
Talking to your child
It is extremely important to encourage your child to share with you what they are doing online; be it the apps they use, people they interact with, or things they share. Building trust which allows open communication can prevent your child from keeping secrets or behaving inappropriately online.
It is important for yourself and your child to be informed about the apps and platforms they are using. Below are some questions you could discuss with your child and inform yourself on.
- How much is your child sharing about themselves online? (In the form of information or photos/videos).
- Are they aware of privacy settings and how to change them?
- Do they know the dangers of sharing too much?
- Does your child know how to report abuse online?
- Are they aware of how to block or remove someone from social media?
- Do they feel comfortable talking to someone in real life about problems experienced online?
- Are they aware of the offenses they may be committing by bullying someone online?
- Are your children aware of the potential risk of strangers online?
- Do they understand that people may lie about who they are?
- Do they know the dangers of pretending to be someone else online?
NetAware is a free app which provides a guide for parents to navigate social networks, apps, and games for their kids. It offers support and advice as well as practical action to take if you are worried about your child online.
There is also the NSPCC helpline: 0808 800 5002 which you can call to speak to someone directly.
What are your biggest worries about your child using the internet? What boundaries do you have with your child and technology? How often are they allowed online? What problems have you had to deal with as a parent with a child using the internet? Offer your advice or ask for help in the comments. Join or start the conversation below.