How can I make sure my children stay safe online?
The internet is an amazing, fun and educational place that we all flock to in our droves. But with children spending more time than ever online, we all need some handy tips to keep them surfing safely.
Start the conversation
Keep talking to your children about what they’re doing online. If it’s a casual conversation it’s easy to hear their opinions, find out who they’re hanging out with and reassure them that you’re interested. They’re more likely to join in and reveal more if it’s a relaxed, regular chat. Ask what apps they like, who their friends are on the net and discuss good online behaviour too.
What to keep private
Remind them that they should only be speaking to friends they know and that they shouldn’t give away too much information. Images and personal details shouldn’t be shared on social media. Once it’s been posted, it’s public. Encourage your child to think first about what they post, keeping their name, phone number, address and even the name of their school to themselves. Even better, ask them to check with you before sharing images and info.
Don’t share your location
Geo-tagging features on social media can make your location discoverable. You can turn these features off to give your family more privacy. Photos also carry information like the time it was taken and the GPS coordinates which can lead someone straight to you. Some social media platforms hide these, but some don’t. To be safe check and take control.
Get clued up
If you know what’s what, you can educate your children better. Pop on the social platforms your children are using and get familiar with the privacy settings and reporting formats. Have a chat about online bullying and what they can do if they’re being bullied, plus cover what behaviour is considered as bullying too. Let them know they can talk to you about anything odd, or worrying that’s happened online, so you can report it. You should also teach them how to block someone.
Keeping online devices where you can see them are also a big help. Easier said than done! For the times you can’t keep an eye on everything, you can track online history, so you know what your child has been looking at. Keeping screen time to a minimum is another great idea. Decide on ‘no-screen’ days and swap online time for family time, or switch your WiFi off at a set time every evening so you can all wind down.
The NSPCC has lots of great advice and even a free webinar for parents to help make it easier to stay safe online. You can organise this as an individual or as a group. But above all remember, the internet can be a fantastic, inspiring place, crammed full of brilliant ways to learn and stay in touch with friends. With lots of fun and benefits to be had, let’s stay safe together.