Internet Safety Information For Parents
Keeping your child safe online
The internet is an amazing resource which enables children to connect, communicate and be creative in a number of different ways, on a range of devices. Many children have access to, or own the latest gadgets such as tablets, smart phones and games consoles. However, the internet is always changing, and being able to keep up to date with your child's use of technology can be a challenge. Children need advice and protection when it comes to managing their lives online and it is important to talk to your child about what they do online and how they can stay safe. In school, we regularly talk to the children about internet safety and use assemblies, computing lessons and PSHE lessons to remind children of our e-safety rules and the importance of keeping safe. As a parent or carer you too play a key role in keeping your child to stay safe online.
Please see the website links below for advice and resources to support you as you support your child to use the internet safely, responsibly and positively.
Internet Matters - for support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online
New Aware - for support for parents and careers from the NSPCC
Parent Info - for support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online
Thinkuknow - for advice from the National Crime Agency to stay safe online
UK Safer Internet Centre - advice for parents and carers
London Grid for Learning - for support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online
You should set up parental control on all the devices that your child uses. This includes those devices that belong to other family members when your child uses them. Setting parental controls will help to keep your child safe while they are online by:
- Blocking inappropriate content
- Limiting in-app purchases
- Managing which apps children are allowed to download.
You can set up parental controls on individual devices and on your home WiFi. Most service providers will offer free parental control services and will help you to activate this if you contact them.
You should also activate the privacy settings on each app that your child uses, as well as ensuring that location sharing is ‘off’ on their device.
Talking to your child about staying safe online
Parental controls and security settings are not 100% accurate and are no substitute for open and honest conversations with your child. It is important to explain, especially to younger children, what is meant by ‘inappropriate,’ by using language they will understand. Make sure they know that if something they see online upsets them or makes them worried, then they should always come to you.
Regularly have open and honest conversations about:
- What they are doing online and who they are talking to.
- Remind them of the importance of not talking to or accepting friend requests from people they do not know in real life.
- Encourage them to keep all personal information such as passwords, phone numbers, dates of birth, home and school address details private.
- Remind them that people might not be who they say they are online. It is very easy for people to set up accounts, with fake names, identities and photos, to make us all believe that they are someone they are not.
- Warn them that the things they write and the photos they post online might be accessed by people other than their friends, if they do not keep their accounts private.
- Highlight the risks of meeting people in person that your child only knows online. Meeting people in real life, that children only know from being online, can pose many risks and children should be encouraged to be open and honest with you or a trusted adult, if someone is asking to meet up with them in real life. (This can be very dangerous and children should be encouraged to tell their parents or an adult they trust, if someone is asking to meet them.)
Managing screen time
The internet opens up a wealth of opportunities for children and has become a big part of how they develop, discover and see the wider world. However, when it comes to screen time, moderation is key as it can have an affect your child’s brain. Too much screen time can affect children's development (including social and emotional development), their physical health and can disrupt sleep and affect sleep cycles. Physical activity and sleep are really important. Make sure screens are not displacing these things by keeping screens out of bedrooms at bed time and by creating opportunities for your child to be active each day. Devices should be avoided in the hour before bed to promote healthy sleep. One size does not fit all when it comes to screen time – it is more about getting it right for your families needs. Families should negotiate screen time limits with their children based upon the needs of an individual child and the ways in which screens are used. Devices should not replace sleep, exercise or family time.
Top tips to manage screen time:
1. Set a good example with your own device use. Children will tend to model their behaviours on you, so if you start reading a book, they may follow your lead.
2. Talk together about the time they spend online. Understand what they are doing, and explain your concerns.
3. Agree an appropriate length of time that they can use their device. Put in place a family agreement to set some boundaries and don’t break them.
4. Get the whole family to unplug and create 'screen free' zones at home.
5. Avoid using screen time as a reward.
6. Use technology and apps to help manage screen time. For example, the Forest app enables them to grow a beautiful forest each day they don't use their phone for a set amount of time. The iPad’s ‘Guided Access’ limits the time you can access any given app, which can be great for younger children.