Young people do not differentiate the real world from the virtual world in the way that adults do. The resources and information on this page will provide information around staying safe online. If a child has been a victim of online exploitation - remember they are NEVER to blame. Make sure to comfort them, be supportive and help them address the issues they have encountered.
Adults can help children and young people to stay safe by creating an environment in which they feel able to speak openly about things they have seen online and about concerns they may have. This can be done by:
- creating good internet habits
- limiting screen time
- avoiding devices at dinnertime/bedtime
- talking and showing an active interest in what children are doing online - let them share what they’re playing or looking at with you.
Parental controls and security settings
Parents and carers should be ensuring the settings of the apps and online games that their children use are set to private, with location settings turned off, to restrict the ways in which they could potentially be targeted by perpetrators. Many apps are public facing automatically, and have to be manually set to 'private'. Parental controls can be used to help block or filter the content children see when searching online. Parental controls are also available to help:
- plan what time of day children can go online and how long for
- stop them from downloading apps they're too young for
- manage the content different members of the family can see
It's important to bear in mind that children and young people can potentially have access to the internet anywhere, not just at home. There are wifi hotspots, internet cafes, friends house and of course mobile data is available 24/7. So, whilst parental controls are useful, the most important thing you can do is have an open and honest relationship with your child about their online interests.
In addition to device settings, did you know broadband and mobile network providers have their own parental controls? Take a look at what you can monitor and what limitations you can set to keep your family safe from online harm with this guide from Internet Matters.
As well as ensuring device settings are secure, it is just as important to talk to children and show an interest in what they are viewing and playing online. Join in a favourite game or watch a favourite Youtuber and enter their world.
- "What's your favourite game? Can I play?"
- "Can you show me your favourite TikTok dance/YouTube video?"
Showing an interest in your child's online life will help them feel they are able to come to you with any concerns they may have.