Keeping our children safe on the Internet

The Internet is an amazing resource which we sometimes take for granted! Some of us recall a time where we had no computers whatsoever, let alone mobile phones. Now, this technology is everywhere and plays a huge part in daily life. Many of you have experienced our computing curriculum here at Holy Trinity through our INSPIRE mornings, and many of your comments sum up the skills you have seen in your children— 'they are much better at this than me—I have learnt how much I don’t actually know!' To this end, we must be continually aware of the importance of Internet safety as we can get so busy with other things we can neglect to remember that we must support our children with this. We can say that we ‘trust’ our children to do the right thing, but we must remember that they are in fact children and it is our duty as adults, parents and carers to support and guide them.

Help and Advice

Be involved. It is important to talk to children and to understand what they are looking at and how they use technology so have a conversation on an ongoing basis about staying safe online. Make sure that it’s a two-way discussion rather than an interrogation; to get the conversation started to ask them what sites they like to visit and what they enjoy online. Find out how they stay safe online, encourage them to share their experiences and see if they have any advice for you; see what they know and where they know it from. Protecting personal information is essential in staying safe online. Find out from your children what they think is okay to share and what isn’t.

Often going online is something that children are left to do alone which exposes them to risks, instead think about how you can use the internet with your children and any activities that you can enjoy together. Encourage your children to use devices in your company and not something that they do in their rooms alone.

Choose the right tech. Sometimes children are given devices with internet access by friends and family without considering e-safety. Before the kit reaches the child ensure that the device is suitable and has parental controls that you know how to set up, manage and monitor. All the major platforms have methods where you can manage the app and game downloads or restrict the functionality of the device. Some older devices, specifically some of the lower cost Google Android devices that the manufacturer hasn’t updated to Android 5 and above, don’t include parental controls however there are many third party solutions, like Kids Place, that replace the default launcher and let you choose which apps and functions they can access.

Apple devices can have restrictions enforced where some apps and functions can be restricted or disabled. Google Android devices, running Android Lollipop or later, can be set up with restricted users which give great control over the apps and functionality. Like Apple and Google devices Microsoft’s Windows Phone include a function called Kid’s Corner and Amazon Kindle’s have parental controls in the device settings.

Use suitable apps. Google Play families, Apple iCloud Family Sharing, Microsoft My Family, and, Amazon Kindle Family Library are all ways of managing purchases with your family where the adult account authorises the children’s app downloads and purchases. Some family services, like Apple’s iCloud Family Sharing, will also create an email account for the child accounts.

Use a safe internet connection. With internet access the content available on your device is only as safe as the internet connection that it uses; consider where the device may be used and whether the content available on that internet connection will be age-appropriate. At home most internet providers offer some safety features that can help you manage access to age-inappropriate content – don’t assume that they are already set up, check with your provider to find out how they can manage and filter the internet connection.

Use suitable services. Most web services that require registration, including email providers, have a 13 + age requirement. It is not just the content on them that you have to consider but the advertising that is delivered to them that will be age targeted and potentially inappropriate for your child.  Ignoring these age requirements exposes children to risks.  There are a number of child-focused sites that you can set up for your child where the communications are moderated and provide a safe environment, always check that your children are using age-appropriate sites and apps and review the parent information advice on them first.

Further Information

For more information about e-safety and keeping children safe online visit www.thinkuknow.co.ukwww.internetmatters.org and www.saferinternet.org.uk