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Ask an expert: What else can I do other than set parental controls to protect my children from upsetting content?

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Zoe E Breen Zoe E Breen | 16:17 UK time, Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Full question:

I have set parental controls and filters on all of our family internet enabled devices. Is there anything else I should be doing to help manage my children's access to online material that might upset them?

Answered by our expert panel:

There are a number of products that can be used to limit what children can access online, but we need to be realistic about this. In a world where everything is becoming more and more mobile rather than constantly restricting children we need to help make them more resilient and provide them with the skills and knowledge that they need to keep themselves safe when they go online.

Parents will be very aware that although a particular game may not be allowed in their house, other families may have different levels of acceptable use and it is highly likely that children will encounter these different thresholds when they go their friend’s houses.

As more and more children have mobile devices with internet capabilities at an ever younger age, it has to be about education. Yes, we can put the parental controls onto these devices, but research suggests that many of us don’t do this, and in reality this is only going to work with younger children.

Phones are relatively affordable now and of course there are places where young people can get their phones unlocked. Dialogue is once again the most important thing. Parents need to have good channels of communication with their children so that they know they have someone to turn to if something goes wrong.

We can use the parental controls but they are not a substitute for good old fashioned discussion and parenting. Parents themselves can go on courses to learn more about the Internet. Becoming familiar with devices like smart phones can help parents develop their own understanding of the changing digital landscape and will help them guide their children from a place of knowing.

If you are a parent and are worried about your teen or child over-sharing online visit the Share Take Care: Ask an expert page to read the advice our panel of experts gave other parents.

Visit the Share Take Care website for more information on help and support for parents.

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