Does your child have a smart phone, tablet or computer that they can use to access the internet? Nowadays, it would be more unusual if they didn’t than if they did, depending on their age of course. While the internet can be absolutely fantastic and educational for children, unfortunately, it can also be a very dangerous place, particularly for vulnerable young people. With that said, I have teamed up with an independent school in Surrey to offer parents the following advice when it comes to children and safe use of the internet. There are some obvious measures to take, such as using parental controls to block adult content, but below are some other ways you can help your child stay safe whilst on the internet.
It’s worth starting with a family chat, with all involved, where you can discuss appropriate use of technology and set boundaries regarding what is and isn’t suitable. Make sure that there are some very clear cut rules, such as:
• Never respond to threatening messages
• Never share inappropriate photos
• Never meet up with anyone you meet. online
Talk to your child about what particular apps or websites they would like to use, write a list, and go through them together. When you’re browsing, you can decide as a team whether or not each app/website is suitable. Your child will probably inform you that their friends are using certain apps that you don’t think are appropriate for your own child. Be prepared to explain your reasons for why you don’t think your child should use the app.
Make sure your child is aware of what personal information is, like their address, school name or any passwords, and that they should never share such information online. Explain that sometimes people pretend to be someone else on the internet so they might not always be talking to the person they think they’re talking to. Of course, you don’t want to frighten your child but it’s important that they know to be very cautious when using technology.