Keeping your children safe online header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

If you have an internet connection and children in your house, then it’s important to think about how to make sure that they are only accessing appropriate websites when they spend time online.

The first thing to be aware of is that while some sites that contain adult material have their own age restrictions, it is possible for children to get around these. The best way to make sure that they are not accessing adult or harmful material is to have parental controls switched on in your broadband settings, as this will block access to inappropriate sites.

Another thing that can help is keeping the computer they use in a room used by the rest of the family, as this makes it easier to discreetly keep an eye on what they are doing online.

However, it’s important to make sure that you talk to your child about internet safety. They should know never to give out their personal information to people they don’t know in real life, as it is easy for people to lie about who they are online.

Make sure that your child feels able to tell you if any of their online contacts are saying or doing things that are making them uncomfortable. This includes being clear that if someone is being inappropriate to them online, then it is not their fault and you will not be angry with them, which is a fear that can lead children to keep their worries to themselves.

Unfortunately, abusive behaviour (be it insults or something more sinister) can spoil someone’s internet experience at any age. Find out which social media sites your child uses, and make sure you both know how to block and report people who are harassing them or otherwise breaking the site rules. All reputable social media sites should have a system for reporting and blocking, and if they do not, you should seriously consider whether it is appropriate for your child.

If your child wants to play online games, make sure that they are age-appropriate by checking the rating. In addition to telling them what age groups they are suitable for, the rating should also have some information about any content that might not be right for some age groups. This should include things like strong language, violence and nudity, so you can see exactly what you are agreeing to with a particular game.