The internet opens up a whole new world of learning opportunities for children, but it does have dangers that parents need to be aware of.
At Oak View Academy, we have measures in place to ensure our children use digital technology in the most positive and educational way; full details of our online safety policy are available to view in school.
As parents, it is important to keep track of what your child is doing online to help them learn from it and, most importantly, to keep them safe.
If you have any concerns about your child’s use of digital technology, the guidelines below will help you to put appropriate boundaries in place.
If you believe your child is being exposed to dangers online, speak to a teacher, who will help put you in touch with professionals who can help.
Here are some simple ways you can protect your child at home:
Be clear what your child can and can’t do online – where they can use the internet and how much time they can spend. Establish the sites they can visit and the type of information they can share.
The best way to find out what your child is doing online is to ask them. If they’re happy to, ask them to show you. Talk to them about being a good friend online.
Put yourself in control
Install parental controls on your home broadband and any internet-enabled devices. Set up a user account for your child and make sure other accounts in the household are password-protected.
Use airplane mode
Use airplane mode on your devices when your child is using them so they can’t make any unapproved purchases or interact with anyone online without your knowledge.
Encourage them to use their devices in a communal area like the lounge or kitchen so you can keep an eye on how they’re using the internet..
Talk to siblings
It’s a good idea to talk to older children about what they’re doing online and what they show to younger children. Encourage them to be responsible and help keep younger siblings safe.
Use safe search engines such as Swiggle or Kids-search. You can save time by adding these to your ‘favourites’. Safe search settings can also be activated on Google and other search engines, as well as YouTube.
Check if it’s suitable
The age ratings that come with games, apps, films and social networks are a good guide to whether they’re suitable for your child. For example, the minimum age limit is 13 for social networking sites including Facebook and Instagram.
For guidance on setting up the correct privacy settings on social networking sites, such as Facebook, or for more information on social networking, visit the NSPCC website.
Texting and instant messaging
Once children reach their pre-teen and teenage years, they usually begin texting and instant messaging and sending pictures and videos through computers and mobile devices. Make sure your child understands that pictures sent to a friend could end up in the hands of all their classmates.
Meeting ‘friends’ in person
Teach your children never meet anyone in person that they’ve only previously communicated with online. It might not be enough to simply tell your child not to talk to strangers, because your child might not consider someone they’ve ‘met’ online to be a stranger.
Visit Think You Know for more detailed information on these matters, how to set up parental controls or tips and advice about limiting time spent using digital technology.
For information on how to protect your child’s privacy, click here.
Sources of help for parents
- Childnet offers a toolkit to support parents and carers of children of any age to start discussions about their online life, to set boundaries around online behaviour and technology use, and to find out where to get more help and support
- Commonsensemedia provide independent reviews, age ratings, & other information about all types of media for children and their parents
- Government advice about protecting children from specific online harms such as child sexual abuse, sexting, and cyberbullying
- Government advice about security and privacy settings, blocking unsuitable content, and parental controls
- Internet Matters provide age-specific online safety checklists, guides on how to set parental controls on a range of devices, and a host of practical tips to help children get the most out of their digital world151
- Let’s Talk About It provides advice for parents and carers to keep children safe from online radicalisation
- London Grid for Learning provides support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online, including tips to keep primary aged children safe online
- Stopitnow resource from The Lucy Faithfull Foundation can be used by parents and carers who are concerned about someone’s behaviour, including children who may be displaying concerning sexual behaviour (not just about online)
- National Crime Agency/CEOP Thinkuknow provides support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online
- Net-aware provides support for parents and carers from the NSPCC and O2, including a guide to social networks, apps and games
- Parentzone provides help for parents and carers on how to keep their children safe online
- Parent info from Parentzone and the National Crime Agency provides support and guidance for parents from leading experts and organisations
- UK Safer Internet Centre provide tips, advice, guides and other resources to help keep children safe online