Talk to your child about online safety, explain the dangers, and make sure their social media accounts are secure. Install parental controls so you can monitor what they access.
The NSPCC has produced the following helpful suggestions to help keep your child safe:
- Speak with your child about what they do online
- Ask them to show you some of their favourite sites
- Show an interest in who their friends are online
- Ask them how they decide who to be friends with
- Try and get them to friend you online too
- Agree the amount of time they spend online and the sites they visit
- Think about installing parental controls on their devices
- Raise the issue of inappropriate content. Have they seen any?
- Make sure they know how to report abuse online
Children don’t think of people they have met online through social networking and online games as strangers – they are just online friends. Point out that it’s a lot easier for people to lie online than it is in real life. Ideally be friends with your child on social media, but if they resist, ask a friend or family member you both trust to try.
Take an interest in your child’s online activities in the same way you do with their offline activities. What is their criteria for choosing friends? How come they have so many? Don’t be afraid to ask, as it’s important to discuss online safety with them.
Agree on some ground rules together. Consider the amount of time they are allowed to spend online, the websites they visit and the activities they take part in. Parent Zone have guides on different social media and gaming platforms.
Internet service providers (ISPs), such as Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Sky or BT, provide parental controls for laptops, phones, tablets, game consoles and other devices that connect to the internet. Parental controls help you filter or restrict what your child can see online.
Check the privacy settings on your child’s social media accounts to keep personal information private. Talk to them about what to do if they see worrying or upsetting content or if someone contacts them and makes them feel anxious or uncomfortable.
Many websites have tools to report abuse – make sure they know about these too.
There are some great websites to help you learn more about child online safety, such as Internet Matters, Safer Internet and Childnet. If you are concerned about something, you can call the NSPCC’s online safety helpline on 0808 800 5002.