As we all know, the internet is an amazing tool, but unfortunately it doesn't come without risks. The UK Safer Internet Centre website, produced in partnership with the NSPCC, has lots of useful information on keeping children safe online.
Please also find below some general advice.
1. Set-up parental controls
One of the first steps to ensuring your child is safe online is to set up parental controls so that upsetting or harmful content is blocked from view. Parents will be able to easilyy control in-app purchases and manage how long their child spends online. It’s important to remember that the words and terms your child or toddler may search will often be done innocently. However, even the most innocent searchers can render explicit results. Parental controls are one of the best ways to prevent this by allowing you to plan the time of day your young one goes online and how long for, stop them from downloading inappropriate apps, and manage the content different members of the family can see.
2. Talk to your child about staying safe online
Another way to keep your child protected when using the internet,internet is to speak to them regularly and openly about the dangers of using the internet. Some families will find it helpful to have an open discussion about this and agree on what is appropriate. Alternatively, if parental controls have flagged something that may be of concern, you may need a more specific conversation about the particular website or app that your child wants access to. It’s important that this is a two-way conversation and parents should ask their children what is and isn't appropriate so that they have insight into their thought-process.
3. Encourage them to ask questions
Instead of feeling as though the internet is the only way to find the answer to any questions, children should feel as though they can approach their parents to gain a better understanding. Parents can encourage this by sitting down with their children regularly and asking them if they have any questions, or telling them to come to them if they are unsure of a word or term. In addition to this, parents can ask children if there is anything they have seen online that has made them feel uncomfortable or confused. You can also teach your child how to report or block information on the sites and apps they use, encouraging them to do so if they see anything upsetting.
4. Discuss sharing personal information
Sharing personal information on the internet could be harmful as location and birth dates could help strangers identify where your child is at a specific time. This is why it is crucial for parents to talk to their children about personal information such as their email address, their full names, phone number, address and school name. Use of images should also be discussed so that your child understands that some photographs could give people the wrong impression. If a website or someone online requests information from your child, you should encourage them to speak to you first.