A Guide to Children’s Online Safety

Children are spending more and more time online whether they are completing homework, playing games, watching videos or connecting with friends and family. Whilst the internet has been a hugely beneficial way for everyone to stay connected especially throughout lockdown, there are certain areas of concern in regards to children’s safety. We’ve highlighted some of the areas you need to be aware of and precautions you can take to keep your children safer online.

Sharing Pictures & Videos

Many children love to send pictures and videos to friends and family. Though, so many devices now have built-in cameras it can put your child at risk. It is incredibly important to make sure your child knows what is okay to share online and what isn’t, take some time to talk to your child about this. Follow this, hackers can also gain access to your visual data, therefore it is recommended to keep your device’s camera lens covered when not in use. 

Watching Videos

Children love watching videos, especially on Youtube making it a great way for them to learn and keep themselves entertained. However, whilst browsing children may be exposed to videos that were not intended for them. Youtube Kids is a great alternative and allows children to explore video content in a much safer way.

Online Gaming & Chats

Online games are a fun and interactive way for children to practice teamwork and communication. Children can use built-in chats to communicate with friends or strangers via a headset or typing on a keyboard. Children may also use external apps for communication whilst gaming such as Discord or Twitch.

Many games may also cause children to witness swearing or hurtful insults. Games can also put children at the risk of potential predators, especially those games that include a private chat. This could result in children sharing private information or feel pressured or influenced to do something they don’t want to do.  

Despite this, developers have been creating ways for children to communicate whilst keeping them safe, by using quick chat functions that have automatic words and phrases to send to players. Some games also allow for parental controls that limit children to only talking with accepted friends or allow you to turn off the game chat altogether.

Tips for helping keep your children safe online

  • Spend time watching your child game online and have regular chats about who they talk to.
  • Ask them about their favourite apps or games and encourage them to show you how to use them.
  • Primary-age children should be supervised at all times whilst online.
  • If possible keep electronics in communal areas of the house so that you can supervise your child’s online activity.
  • Visit the parental controls for each device which have been designed to help you manage your child’s online activities.
  • Ask your child if anything ever worries them online. Make sure they know they won’t be in trouble and can get help by talking to you or another adult they trust if anything happens online that makes them feel worried, sad or scared.
  • Most web search engines will have a ‘SafeSearch’ function, which will allow you to limit the content your child can access whilst online. You should be able to turn this on within your browser settings.
  • Thinkuknow is the national online safety education programme from the National Crime Agency. Thinkuknow offers learning activities, advice and support for children and young people aged 4-18 and their families.
  • For more advice visit NSPCC’s website area for online safety. 

Published: April 20