Internet use and safety

Following some simple safety tips can help your kids be safe on the Internet

child plays with a portable computer

Internet use and safety

The Internet is a fantastic source of both fun and learning, and you needn't be frightened of your child using it if you follow some simple rules.

Always sit with young children when they use the Internet.
There are plenty of safe places for children to play and learn on the web (like the CBeebies website!), get to know them and maybe save these as short-cuts in your favourites folder.

You can adjust browser settings and filters to protect children from unsuitable sites, The UK Safer Internet Centre has a guide to doing this through your internet service provider.

If you have older children who want to explore on their own, it is a good idea to keep the computer in a family room or a place you share. Talk to your child about how to stay safe and let them know they can speak to you if they find themselves in any sort of trouble. Thinkuknow - Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre has some useful advice and ideas on this.

Social Media
Social networking sites aimed at grown-ups, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, are not suitable for children. The suggested minimum age for most social networking sites is 13. YouTube has a ‘Safety Mode’ that can be easily switched on by scrolling to the bottom of the page if you suspect your child may be using it.

The way we access the internet is changing and no longer confined to desktop computers, this has meant more children than ever before going online on phones, tablets, on demand services and even games consoles.

Mobiles and Tablets:
Lots of children now use apps on smartphones and tablets. Some devices come complete with a ‘child mode’ that can prevent them from accidentally exiting the app they’re using and coming across other things accidentally. Child safety ‘locks’ are also available as downloadable apps for mobile devices.

A number of apps for children have ‘in app purchases’ that allow money to be spent to progress to another level or get extra features to the game. Depending on the device parental controls can be added which means a password is required before a purchase can be made, and on some devices a child profile can be set up that will allow your child to download only free apps and games and prevent any in-app purchases, even from within free games. The CBeebies Playtime app is available to download for free and has no in app purchases, so this is a good app option for young children.

On Demand TV:
Many children now watch TV programmes through on-demand services. BBCiplayer now has a 'Parental guidance lock’ where you can set a pin code that must be entered before watching any content that originally went out post-watershed.

Games consoles:
Most games consoles connect to the internet so it is important to make sure your go into the parental control and security settings for these devices and make sure they are set to the level that you require.

More help and support for both children and grown-ups about staying safe online can be found here:

  • BBC Webwise
  • NSPCC - Keeping your child safe online
  • Thinkuknow - Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre
  • CBBC's Stay Safe
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