Now that the internet has become such a big part of our lives, your children are likely to have easy access to it through the computers, smartphones, tablets or game consoles that you have in your home.
Whether they’re allowed to play supervised on your tablet or are old enough to have their own social media accounts, we’re going to take you through how best to keep your kids safe online.
Educate them early on
There’s no escaping from technology so it’s unlikely that you’ll be looking to ban your children from using the internet completely. If they’re at an appropriate age to start using technology, try and educate them early on about how to stay safe online.
To introduce your children to the internet gradually, get them to use the computer alongside you. When you’re doing this, point out the similarities between the online world and the real world – there are safe and unsafe aspects to both. But highlight that there are things to protect us on the internet like passwords and internet security software.
As they get older and start to use the computer independently, you can help them to come up with an appropriate password for any accounts that they want to set up, and explain to them the importance of a strong one.
Make sure they know not to use the same password for multiple accounts and that a strong password usually consists of a mix of lower and uppercase letters, as well as symbols. If they have trouble remembering their password you could tell them to use an acronym of an easy-to-remember phrase like the song lyrics That’s What Makes You Beautiful, which would become TWMYB. Get them to add a memorable number or symbol and you could have something like this: TWmyb£92.
If your child is at an age where they want to start using social media, it may be wise to set some limitations on this. You could set a rule that you have to be able to access their social media account either by being accepted as a friend or follower. If you’re not on social media, you could get a responsible family member to link up with them.
On top of this, you could set up their account through your email so that any changes to settings come straight through you. This could come in handy if your child locks themselves out of their account or tries to change their password or the email address the account is used with.
Talk to them about some of the negative sides of social media like cyber bullying. You can find resources to help explain this on CBBC, and make sure that they know how to report incidents on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
To help give you peace of mind that your child isn’t viewing any unsuitable or harmful content online, use parental controls to filter or restrict content.
Internet providers such as Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Sky, BT or Plusnet all provide controls to help you stop them from accessing inappropriate content. You can find step by step guides on how to set up these parental controls on internet matters. There’s information about how to set this up for certain mobile operators as well.If there’s an iPhone, iPad or iPod that’s accessible to your child, then you can use Restrictions to block or limit the apps and features that they can use. For full instructions on how to do this, click here.
Making sure you have parental controls in place could prevent your little ones from spending money accidentally online. For more information on how to make your devices kid-friendly, read our blog.
If your child is old enough to have their own laptop or tablet, make sure it’s protected by downloading anti-virus software onto their device. You don’t have to spend a fortune on this – there are a number of free ones that you can download including AVG, Avast, Panda Security and Avira.
When doing this, talk to your child about the different ways a virus can get installed onto their computer. Tell them about the danger of clicking on links in emails sent from people that they don’t know, and reassure them that if they’re ever unsure about anything they receive to come to you.
If they’re a little bit older, you could get them to read our blog on the top phishing emails scam so that they know what to look out for.