With Christmas just around the corner, many children are sure to be waking up to new tech from Santa on the big day, be it a new computer, smartphone, laptop or games console.
With all computers and gadgets now having the ability to connect online, it’s extremely important that we educate ourselves and our children on how to not only set up our tech safely, but also how to remain safe when doing anything online. We can’t escape the digital world that our children are growing up in and we certainly don’t want to scare them, so it’s about working with them to give yourself peace of mind whilst allowing them to enjoy their new gadget!
Here’s 5 tips for keeping kids safe online this Christmas
When setting up user names, it’s best practice to go for something that doesn’t involve any part of your child’s name. Your child should remain as anonymous as possible online and this would include a unique username, as well as no other info that can identify them, such as DOB, address or telephone number.
Images and videos
It’s a good idea to talk with your child about the importance of what they post on social media. Whilst teenagers may not be too worried about what they’re putting out there, as a parent you are all too aware of the potential consequences that can occur when information is posted online, especially photos and videos. For instance, a person’s online profile might affect their chances of getting a job or applying for a course.
Work with your child to explore different games, apps and social media channels and choose the right privacy settings for each. Them about what kinds of images and videos are acceptable to post online.
Explain that once they’re out there, they’re out there and can be very difficult, if not impossible to retract completely. Things can be deleted, but it’s still possible that somebody may have downloaded an image/video already.
Not everybody is who they say they are
Remember, it’s easy for people to pretend to be somebody else when they’re behind a keyboard. To stay safe, the rule of thumb for your children is, if they don’t know them, don’t interact with them. And If somebody tries to befriend them or asks to meet up in person, they need to leave that site, app or game and tell an adult straight away.
If you have younger children, one of the easiest ways to ensure the kind of content they see online is to set up parental controls. This can be done on most devices and allows parents to set filters, so their children can only view suitable content. An innocent search by your child on You Tube for instance, could throw up some less-than-innocent results, if parental controls aren’t in place.
Make sure you put restrictions in place on relevant games, shops and apps so children aren’t able to spend your money willy-nilly. Most games and apps encourage in-app spending to buy extra lives or to enhance characters and some shops allow purchases at the click of a button, so be sure to logout and Keep your password safe! You can also add restrictions to your internet browser so you can block your children from particular websites.
We believe one of the best ways of keeping your child safe online is to talk with them openly and regularly. You might find it easier to approach the subject as a family, discussing in general what’s appropriate and what’s not.
If you think something needs addressing specifically, you can talk to your child on a one to one basis regarding a particular topic. They may argue that their friends are using particular apps or games, so be ready to discuss your reasons why you don’t want them to engage in the same content, but also listen to your child’s reasons why they think it’s ok. A good discussion views the topic from all angles, but ultimately you should do what you think is appropriate in keeping your child safe.