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How to keep my child safe online

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From Snapchat and Instagram, to Minecraft and Roblox, the children of today are constantly surrounded by a world of technology. Although the Internet brings us so much entertainment, at times it can seem a little scary, especially for our young ones and how can we be sure they’re being as safe as possible? On the 8th February every year, we celebrate Safer Internet Day globally. It’s a day where we’re reminded of the importance of children and young people staying safe online and inspires a national conversation about using technology responsibility, respectfully, critically and creatively. 

Each year, The UK Safer Internet Centre has a theme for Safer Internet Day. This year they have chosen: ‘All fun and games? Exploring respect and relationships online.’ After a global pandemic, where everything turned digital for our children, this seems to be a timely and important topic. It delves deeper into online gaming, chat functions, streaming and video. In this blog, we’ve picked out the main concerns parents have with online gaming and socialising and found ways in which you can monitor your child’s internet habits in order to keep them safe.

Age Limits and Setting Controls

Although many social media platforms and gaming sites have age restrictions, more often than not these are not checked and in practice means anybody can create an account. Therefore, checking what sites your children are on is important. These age restrictions are  put in place for a number of reasons included below:

  • Many apps/games have instant messaging functions that allow private conversations with anybody.
  • Information shared can be easily copied, spread and once posted hard to take back.
  • Some apps use the location of the phone.

For gaming sites that don’t always have an age restriction, it's best to ensure your child’s age is put down on the sign up as it’ll trigger the appropriate safe-chat with a higher level of filtering and you will often have the option of a separate parent login to check up on interactions.

Online Spending

Gaming Apps, such as the very popular Roblox uses ‘Robux’, which is (your) money to purchase in-game upgrades or avatar accessories. Often our children are unaware that this is in fact real money, and can be influenced by their peers or gaming YouTubers to buy into these extra things.  So to prevent this, ensure you’re looking at their in-game tools and settings to allow you as parents to determine what sort of transactions your children can make. This way you can exercise the amount of control over what your children are able to do on the game, including limiting the types of transactions they can make and how much money (if any) they can spend! 

Protecting my child’s data

Similar to adults, children using the Internet are at risk of having their online identity stolen or misused. It can be very hard to maintain a child’s privacy as they may not understand what information is safe to share online. Here are some good subjects to brief your children on to ensure they are as safe as possible online: 

  • Talk to them about privacy and information they shouldn't share online. For example their full name, address, phone number, school etc.
  • Encourage your children to think about which friends they connect/game with.
  • Ensure their username is not their real name
  • Look through the privacy settings and update if necessary (Hint - look for location sharing and if your child’s settings are on private)

This Day is to remind us that if used safely the Internet can be an enjoyable, entertaining and a great source of information for our children. Sometimes, we just need to reinforce ways in which we can ensure it can be as safe as possible. 

For more information on Safer Internet Day and what you can do to get involved, head to https://saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/safer-internet-day-2022 

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