The internet is a great resource, but is always changing, and it’s hard to keep up to date with your child’s use of technology. Your child may have better technical skills than you, but he/she still needs advice and protection online, just as he/she does offline.
Online safety can be daunting for parents and carers, as you may have concerns about your understanding of the topic and your knowledge of latest developments. It may be comforting to remember that online safety is more about your parenting and communication skills than technology.
It isn’t enough to protect children from online harms by simply banning sites or installing firewalls and filters, though these are important. It is important to have a safe online environment for your children, and we encourage you to set age-appropriate parental controls on digital devices and use filters to block malicious websites. These are usually free but often need to be turned on. How to do this may be daunting for some parents, so we provide some links to advice below.
Most importantly, we encourage you to maintain an open and ongoing discussion about online safety at home/as a family/with your children.
The main four online risks can be summarised as:
For more information about these four main risks, please look at https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre/parents-and-carers/what-are-issues
The NSPCC has lots of excellent advice on its website and is a great place to start: nspcc.org.uk - keeping children safe online
Thinkuknow provides advice from the National Crime Agency (NCA) on staying safe online: thinkuknow.co.uk
ThinkUKnow have also created a page to support parents and young people online. The site includes home activity packs with simple 15 minute activities support children's understanding of online safety at a time. There is also parent support information for primary and secondary age groups. thinkuknow.co.uk - activity worksheets
Parent info is a collaboration between Parentzone and the NCA providing support and guidance for parents from leading experts and organisations: parentinfo.org
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: childnet.com/ parents and carers toolkit
Internet matters provides 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 world: internetmatters.org
London Grid for Learning has support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online, including tips to keep primary aged children safe online: lgfl.net online safety resource centre
Net-aware has support for parents and carers and is from the NSPCC, including a guide to social networks, apps and games: net-aware.org.uk
UK Safer Internet Centre has tips, advice, guides and other resources to help keep children safe online, including parental controls offered by home internet providers and safety tools on social networks and other online services: safer internet.org.uk - advice centre
Barnardo’s outlines five tips for keeping your child safe online: Barnardo's: Child Safety on the Internet
CEOP: If you are you worried about online sexual abuse or the way someone has been communicating with online, make a report to one of CEOP's Child Protection Advisors https://www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre/
If you are looking for specific advice, then the following categories may be helpful. Below the list is each category with links that may be of help.
- Parental Controls
- Talking to your child about what they're doing/using online, including online behaviour and safety
- Sexting/sending nudes
- Online Games
- Social Media
- Online Pornography
- Inappropriate/explicit content
- Online sexual abuse or grooming behaviour, including reporting it
- Online gambling
- Livestreaming and online video apps
- Critical thinking/fake news/conspiracy theories/scams and phishing
Sadly, sometimes children receive unpleasant or abusive messages from other children, and may experience this as bullying. We advise that the perpetrator(s) are blocked on the relevant platform that is being used, and that abusive language is reported to the platform being used. You may wish to report it to the police. You may wish to report it to school, especially if there is a concern about bullying behaviour being transferred to school, but you need to be aware that the school is not equipped to investigate cyberbullying, especially when carried out off the school premises.
Sources of advice:
Setting up filters -
How to set up filters on your home internet to help prevent age inappropriate content being accessed on devices in your home. The 4 big internet providers in the UK – BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media - provide their customers with free parental controls which can be activated at any time. They have come together to produce these helpful video guides to help you to download and set-up the controls offered by your provider.
Safety features that can help you manage access to age-inappropriate content, report concerns or protect privacy -
Setting up parental controls on devices and platforms:
iphone – setting up parental controls on your child’s iphone/ipad: support.apple.com
Android phones – Dinner Time Plus is a third party app which lets parents remotely control children’s devices – go to the Play Store and search for dinner time plus
Family Link – A Google app which allows users of Android 7.0 or higher devices to regulate the use of their children’s devices: families.google.com/familylink/
Talking to your child about what they're doing/using online, including online behaviour and safety
If an adult is involved with your child with respect to sexting or sending/receiving images, you should contact the police and/or report it to CEOP. For advice on this, look at:
RADICALISATION AND EXTREMISM
Online sexual abuse or grooming behaviour, including reporting it