With so many different devices available it can be difficult knowing where to look for advice and what parental controls are available for the devices you have at home.
Internet Matters is a great website with guides to changing settings for all popular devices, software and broadband.
For young children and more control you could consider software like Qustodio.
Your child’s wellbeing and mental health is particularly important at this time when they may not be getting the same level of social interaction as they would normally from seeing their friends at school and playing out.
The internet can be very engaging and persuasive by design so setting screen time limits can be a big help if the device just goes off rather than you have to keep nagging.
The recommendation is at least an hour of screen-free time for your child before going to sleep to give them time to relax and wind down.
If possible, do not have a mobile, tablet, TV or computer in the bedroom at night, as the light from the screen interferes with sleep especially as many of these devices are always-on.
Having their mobile in the bedroom also means your child is more likely to stay up late interacting with friends on social media.
YoungMinds offers mental health support to young people and their parents. Visit https://youngminds.org.uk/ for more information.
Aside from school work lots of children are using the internet for social and leisure activities. Explore these sites with your children to make sure they are suitable.
If they’re gaming online, get them to make up a gaming name to keep their real name private. You may need to check the privacy settings and enable parental controls so adults and other strangers can’t easily make contact.
For lots of social networking apps there will also be tools to report and block people who they don’t know.
Remind them to be careful about clicking on pop-ups and links which promise rewards and prizes, these may take you out of the safe environment and link to malware or other inappropriate content.
Be mindful of the age ratings on games, they are there to support parents making an informed decision to whether the game is appropriate for your child's age.
It is not uncommon for children playing games to mimic the behaviour they see in it.
Common Sense Media is a leading source of entertainment recommendations for families. Check out their Game Reviews.
Family Gamer TV YouTube Channel provides parents with honest reviews of video games, highlighting both opportunities and pitfalls.
Strong passwords are essential for protecting our personal information on the internet.
- Use 12 characters or more
- Use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols
- Avoid words that can be found in a dictionary
- Don't reuse a password
- Never share a password with someone else
Reusing passwords for important accounts is risky. If someone gets your password for one account, they could access your email, address, and even your money.
You can write your passwords down on paper or in a book but keep that safely hidden at home. If you need to remember passwords out of home use a Password Manager app:
Has one of your accounts been hacked and personal information stolen? Check at have I been pwned?
It’s important we teach our children to be good digital citizens. We’ve talked about some of the online risks but it is important we all do our bit to make the internet a safe and nice place.
At school we teach ‘Think before you Click’. Before you send that text, leave that feedback, is it kind, is it positive, could it be misconstrued? Speak to others online as you would do at home and in the classroom.
Universities, colleges and work employers are increasingly searching online for information about applicants to check their suitability prior to interview. Things children post in their school years could still be available many years later – does it create a good first impression?
We should teach our children to tell a trusted adult if something or someone makes them feel upset, worried or confused. This could be a parent, carer or teacher. As they get older we can also make them aware of ChildLine and Click CEOP.
Keeping information private online is not just an issue for our children. As parents and carers we also need to be careful.
Barclays say sharenting, where parents share personal information about their children on social media, is the ‘weakest link’ in risking online fraud and identity theft.
On social media parents can reveal names, ages and dates of births from birthday messages, home addresses, place of birth, mother's maiden name, schools, the names of pets, sports teams they support and photos.
These details, which will still be available when young people are adults, could be used for fraudulent loans or credit card transactions or online shopping scams.
Want to know more about staying safe online?