Provided by Get Safe Online https://www.getsafeonline.org/
As parents, we want our children to be healthy and happy and to develop well both physically and mentally. Above all, it’s also instinctive that we want our kids to be safe. Children learn through exploration and natural curiosity, and it is part of our job as parents and carers to encourage that. However, as our children grow up, until their understanding and instincts catch up with their curiosity, we have to take more and different steps to ensure their safety, including keeping them safe online.
In this digital age it is becoming increasingly necessary for children to have access to technology – the internet is a fantastic tool and with the right guidelines in place for children, there is no reason why it can’t be used to its full advantage and enhance their learning experience.
However, unfortunately, none of us is immune from encountering problems online. Without using controls such as built-in security, safety and privacy features and search engine filters, children will almost certainly run into something that really isn’t appropriate for their age, or any age. Parents should set some boundaries for their child before they get their first connected device and take advantage of the filters and controls which can reduce the chance that they will come across inappropriate or offensive content. The big four Internet Service Providers give their customers free parental controls which can be activated at any time. We advise parents to check them out and take advantage of them.
We also encourage families to talk openly about what they are doing online. Parents should set restrictions on what their children can and can’t access and if they find their child has been looking at restricted sites, talk through why it’s not a good thing. Talk to them about the kind of websites they look at and encourage them to speak to you if they come across something they find worrying or upsetting on websites, games or while social networking. Agree a list of websites your child is allowed to visit and the kind of personal information they shouldn’t reveal about themselves online, such as the name of their school or their home address.
Our final and most important piece of advice would be to encourage your child to tell you if they are experiencing anything that makes them feel uncomfortable online – be that bullying, bad language or inappropriate content.
To help parents stay up to date with advice on safeguarding their children online, last year we launched our Switched On campaign, which enables parents to receive newsletter emails by signing up at www.getsafeonline.org/switchedon. These newsletters provide a wealth of information such as the new online channels that kids are using, the different kinds of technology available for kids, as well as the latest safety issues, relevant organisations and the appropriate steps on how to keep children of all ages safe.