Internet Safety Tips
Looking ahead to our Internet Safety Evening for Parents tomorrow, here are my top ten tips for keeping children safe online:
#1 Set up your filter.
Use parental controls to control what your children can access online. If you are unsure how to do this, you will find more information here: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre/parents-and-carers/parental-controls-offered-your-home-internet-provider
#2 Test your internet filter.
Once you have set your settings, then test them! Carry out some web searches that your curious children (or their friends) might try. A search for the term “what is sex” threw up some surprising results on our home network, which led us to look again at our parental controls.
#3 Set up controls on different devices, or within different websites and apps.
Information on how to set up parental controls on your ipad, ipod or itouch can be found here: support.apple.com/en-gb/HT201304
#4 Be online savvy – or as online savvy as you can be!
A parent would not think of allowing a child to walk to shops alone without walking the route themselves. So, get active online yourself – walk the routes, or some of them, which your children will soon be walking alone. Learn about social networking (start to use facebook?), shop online… It is much easier to appreciate the possibilities and pitfalls of the online world if one is involved oneself.
#5 Use the NSPCC’s net aware tool to check out the sites, games and apps your children are using. (https://www.net-aware.org.uk/). The site gives information about ratings, content, in-app purchases and views of parents and children.
#6 Be part of your child’s online activities – enjoy the internet together.
Of course, depending on your child’s age and stage in life, this may be easier said than done. Our none year old boy still enjoys spending time online with us – we farm together (Hay Day), watch films together, rear dragons together (Dragon City), make lego animations together (Lego Movie Maker)… Our 23 year old daughter has no secrets from us online and we are part of her online life. Of course, there are some years in between when children tend to be less welcoming of their parents in their online world! (see below for some alternative strategies).
#7 Establish some common sense rules from the start.
If you don’t want your adolescent child holed up in their bedroom and online behind a closed door, then establish (if it is not too late) when they are younger some basic ground rules – perhaps no devices in bedrooms, or a limit on the amount of time or times of the day online…whatever works for you, and will set those basic parameters you may wish to stick with as your children grow older.
#8 Don’t be shy!
Talk with your adult friends and fellow parents about internet safety, and with your child’s school too. It’s especially important (though perhaps difficult and embarrassing) to talk and share experiences when things go wrong – don’t be shy and feel you need to parent in isolation. Attend school internet safety talks and the like. Find out how your child’s school approaches aspects of internet safety and online behaviour. (You can find out how we appraoch internet safety at HCJS via the links on our ICT Department’s internet safety page).
#9 Talk with your child about their online activities and their online safety.
Of course this may be more easily done if you have established this sort of relationship from the start (see #6), but no matter how one has approached this issue with younger children, older children will present challenges!
You may like to set up a family agreement about internet use. (You may find the advice and template here useful: http://www.childnet.com/resources/family-agreement )
You may find conversation ice breakers useful. (The NSPCC offer some here: https://nspcc.o2.co.uk/)
#10 In the nicest possible way…do not forget that you are the parent.
You are in charge – your child’s online access, activities and behaviour are for you to lead and manage. Whilst the methodology you employ will depend on your child’s age and stage, you are in charge of this area of their lives.
Your child’s behaviour toward others, is your child’s behaviour toward others, whether online or not.
Your child’s safety is your child’s safety, whether online or not.
Please do comment below with any thoughts on the above, or with any Internet Safety Tips of your own.
Chris Wright, Head of the Junior School, February 2018