Top tips to keep your kids safe online
Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we’ve all been spending more time online than ever before, using the internet to keep in touch with friends and family, to be entertained, and for our work and education.
Children are no different.
And in an increasingly tech-focused world, this isn’t set to change. The internet is full of fantastic resources for children to learn, socialise and play, but being online does also have risks. We've complied a list of some of the best things that you can do as parents to help keep your children safe online.
Take control of your child’s accounts
When your child needs to create an account to access a new website, app or online service, make sure you’re the one to do this. While the steps to sign up for a service are usually pretty simple, children may not fully understand what they’re signing up for.
Once your child’s account is set up, go to the ‘privacy’ section on the website or app. Here, you can turn on/off certain features. You might want to consider turning off features like messaging or chat, location sharing, and adverts/in-app purchases.
Check in with what they’re looking at
You can’t look over your child’s shoulder at what they’re browsing all the time, but there’s tools that allow you to monitor and check that what your child accesses is safe and appropriate. Of course, you can manually check your child's browsing history in your web browser, but we also like the following:
- If your child has a Google account, use Google SafeSearch to filter out explicit results from their Google searches. You can also use Google's Family Link to link your Google account with your child’s so you can monitor their online activity and screen time.
- FamiSafe is a parental control app that detects inappropriate content and suspicious messages. You can also use the app to find out your child's real-time location using their device location (super useful for older kids gaining a bit more independence), and to manage screen time per app.
Educate your child
This might be our favourite. It's always best to understand the reasons behind our actions, so try to educate your child about the risks of being online and the things we can do to stay safe.
- Let them know that they should never give out private information (this could be on a website, in an app or via an email) and that they should report anyone who asks for this
- Advise them to never share their username or passwords with anyone - including their friends
- Teach them to never click on any suspicious links or pop ups
- Talk to them about the impact of what we post online - once a comment or photo is posted to a website, social media or chat, this can never be taken off the internet - even if it’s deleted you can never be sure that it hasn’t been screenshotted or forwarded - so it’s super important to think before we post!
Take some time to understand
Ask your child what they like doing online and what their favourite apps and websites are, then take some time to have a look at them. By doing this you’ll understand more what your child is looking at and doing online, plus you’ll be able to identify any red flags.
Think about ways you can use the internet together so you can model safe behaviour - if your child enjoys playing games online perhaps you can find one to play together, or if they enjoy using the internet to find out new things you could take on a family research project.