Using the Internet safely

The Internet is a fantastic source of fun and learning, but it’s worth following some simple rules to help your children stay safe online.

  • 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 save them as shortcuts in your favourites folder.
  • You can adjust browser settings and filters to protect children from unsuitable sites. Internet safety organisation Internet Matters has an interactive guide to setting parental controls across your whole house.
  • 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 come to you if they find themselves in any sort of trouble. Thinkuknow has some useful advice on this.
  • Remember – your actions and what you share online also play a big party in your child’s online safety. Recent evidence reveals ‘the average parent will share their child’s image online nearly 1000 times before their fifth birthday (The Parent Zone, 2015). Are you a ‘sharent’? Before you share again, take a read of this Think u Know article. 

Children and social media

Social networking sites aimed at grown-ups, such as Facebook and Twitter, are not suitable for children. The suggested minimum age for most social networking sites is 13 – so keep an eye on what sites your child is accessing, and be aware of age restrictions on the sites you use yourself.

Consider carefully the impact of anything you share on your own social media networks about your child, and think about whether what your post could identify them to strangers, compromise their safety, humiliate them, or cause them distress now or later in life.

YouTube has a ‘Safety Mode’ to screen out potentially unsuitable content that can be easily switched on by scrolling to the bottom of the page. The CBeebies YouTube channel also offers a safe environment where adults and children can enjoy CBeebies content together.

Using apps on mobiles and tablets

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

Be aware that some 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 your device, you can often add parental controls which mean that the app will have to ask for a password before a purchase can be made.

On some devices, you can even set up a child profile that will only allow your child to download free apps and games, and will prevent any in-app purchases, even within free games.

CBeebies apps are free to download and have no in app purchases, so this is a good app option for young children.

Using on-demand TV

Lots of children watch TV programmes through on-demand services. To stop them accidentally seeing inappropriate programmes, BBCiPlayer now has a 'Parental guidance lock’ . You can use this to set a PIN code that has to be entered before watching any programme originally broadcast after the watershed.

Games consoles

Most games consoles connect to the Internet so it’s important to explore the parental control and security settings for your devices and make sure they are set to the level that you require.

Find out more

For further tips and an internet safety checklist for pre-school children, check out:

Internet Matters

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