The 9th of February is Safer Internet Day, a globally celebrated event, which encourages all of those who use the internet and all those who have a stake in children futures the future of children, to join together to make the internet a safer and better place. In acknowledgement of this important day here are some simple Safer Internet Day tips for children across all age ranges.
Up to 5 years of age
Between 6 and 9 years old
- Set up passwords/PINs and avoid letting children have them.
- Check the age recommendation before you download apps, games, online TV and films.When using public Wi-Fi, remember, if the children are playing on a smartphone or tablet they may inadvertently access something inappropriate, unless you are using a VPN (virtual private network) on the device. A VPN hides your online presence and encrypts data keeping you safe when using public Wi-Fi, ensuring privacy and anonymity, and on your home network too.
- If your child has their own tablet, set the homepage to an appropriate kiddie website such as Amazon Kids or CBeebies.
- Share your technology rules with grandparents, babysitters and other care providers.
Between 10 and 12 years old
- Use parental controls so that you can block inappropriate content.
- Let children know that they shouldn’t reveal anything about themselves online, such as passwords, the name of their school or their home address.
- If your child wants to use new apps or view particular content check the privacy settings and whether the content is appropriate. It’s easy for children to find themselves accidently exposed to inappropriate content or strangers if privacy settings haven’t been applied.
For 13 years and over
- Advise your child that it is very important to keep phones and other devices secure and well-hidden when they’re not at home, to minimise the risk of theft or loss.
- Discuss what is safe and appropriate to post and share online. Written comments, photos and videos all form part of their ‘digital footprint’ and could be seen by anyone and available on the internet forever, even when they are deleted.
- Explain to your child that being online doesn’t give them anonymity or protection, and that they shouldn’t do anything online that they wouldn’t do face-to-face.
- Talk about the kind of content they have seen and could potentially see online. They need to lett someone know if they receive images from anyone, especially strangers. Parental controls can help with these issues by enabling parents to block certain websites based on keywords.
- Ensure that privacy settings have been applied to social media apps so strangers can’t access your child’s groups and shares. Also make sure that the children understand the importance of not accepting friend requests from people they don’t know.
- You may be starting to think your child knows more about using technology than you do, and you are likely correct. It is a good idea to try to keep up to date on the latest trends (games / social platforms etc) and to discuss with your child what you know and what they are learning.
- Talk frankly to your child about how they explore issues related to the health, wellbeing and body image of themselves and others online. They may be discovering inaccurate or dangerous information online at what is a vulnerable time in their lives.
- Have open conversations about how they behave towards others, particularly with regard to what they post online, and ensure that they are aware of all of the repercussions and effects that hurtful, misleading posts or untrue comments can have. Also, make them aware of the dangers of behaviours like sexting and inappropriate use of webcams.
- Ensure your children always ask permission for access to your payment card or other financial details.