As a parent, you want to do everything you can to protect your child online. There are dangers that children may face when they're using the internet, and it can be difficult to keep track of everything they're doing, and the people they may be interacting with.
That's why we've put together this list of eight things that you can do to help keep your child safe online. This guide will help you get started in keeping your child safe and ensuring they're protected while using the internet.
Why online safety for children matters
It’s important to be aware of online safety for children. The internet can be a great place for young people to explore and learn new things, however, there are also hazards that they may encounter. These include cyberbullying, online predators, and inappropriate content.
According to a report from Ofcom, nearly every child between the ages of five and 15 went online in 2020. This means children as young as five are using the internet and can be exposed to these risks. Taking precautions and having boundaries in place can increase online safety and help reduce the likelihood of negative incidents.
Understanding online risks
When it comes to online safety for children, it’s important to understand the risks they may face, which can include the following.
- Cyberbullying is when someone is deliberately abusive or hurtful to another person online. This can include sending nasty messages or posting negative comments on social media.
- Online predators are people who try to exploit children online for harmful purposes.
- Inappropriate content is anything that a child may see or access that is not suitable for their age. This can include violence, pornography, and hate speech.
Being aware of these risks is the first step in keeping your child safe online. We explore eight things you can do to help keep your child safe online and help protect them.
1. Agree on boundaries with your children
It’s important to set boundaries with your children about their internet use. This could include agreeing on how much time they can spend online, what websites they can visit, and who they can chat with. You should also agree on consequences if they break the rules, as this will reinforce the importance of maintaining these boundaries.
2. Encourage the use of tech devices in communal areas
Another way to help keep your child safe online is to encourage them to use tech devices in communal areas, such as the living room. This way, you can monitor their internet activity and make sure they’re not accessing anything inappropriate.
Using devices in communal areas can also help to cut down on the amount of time they spend online, as it makes it easier to set time limits.
This will also encourage transparency and communication between you and your child about their online activity, which is essential for helping them stay safe while using mobile phones, tablets, or other devices.
3. Stay interested in their online activity
It’s important to take an interest in your child’s online activity, even if you don’t understand it all. This way, you can better understand their internet use and spot any red flags.
Stay up to date with the apps they're using, and make sure you set the necessary privacy settings. For example, you can help your children stay safe using apps like Snapchat by ensuring only friends can contact them, and by explaining to your child why they should hide their location with the Ghost Mode privacy setting.
You can start by asking children about their favourite websites, who they talk to online, and what they like to do. It’s also important to be aware of the signs of cyberbullying, such as withdrawn behaviour or not wanting to use the internet.
4. Use parental controls where necessary
Parental controls can be very useful in helping to keep your child safe online. They allow you to block inappropriate websites, set limits on internet use, and monitor your child’s activity.
Most platforms have built-in parental controls. For example, you can help your child stay safe on apps like TikTok and YouTube by using the settings that allow you to restrict access to certain content. Browsers also feature settings that allow you to block certain websites.
5. Ask older siblings to help teach responsibility
If you have older children, you can ask them to help teach younger siblings about online safety. This includes helping them understand what is and isn’t appropriate to do online, as well as how to spot the signs of cyberbullying or online predators. Older children can also help younger ones create strong passwords and teach them about the importance of keeping their personal information private.
Older siblings can also be a great support for parents, as they can also keep an eye on their younger siblings’ online activity and let you know if they spot anything of concern.
6. Use safe search settings on search engines
Most search engines have safe search settings that filter out inappropriate content. This can be a useful resource for helping to keep your child safe online, as it means they’re less likely to stumble across something that isn’t suitable for them.
To activate safe search on Google, go to Settings and then select SafeSearch. You can then choose to turn on the explicit results filter, which will exclude websites with adult content.
7. Check whether apps and social media are suitable for your child
Before allowing your child to use a particular app or social media platform, it’s important to check whether it’s suitable for their age group. This includes looking at the age range for a particular platform, as well as the privacy settings and terms and conditions. It can also be worthwhile to read reviews of the app or social media platform, as these can give you a better idea of its safety measures and appropriateness.
If you're unsure of what apps your children like, you could consider using apps to monitor your kids' mobile phone usage. These will help give you a better idea of which apps they're using and how much time they're spending on them.
8. Track online spending with GoHenry
If your child is old enough to have their own prepaid debit card, it can be important to track their online spending. This includes in-app purchases they make, as well as subscriptions they sign up for. Tracking this activity can help you ensure your child isn’t overspending.
It can be a good idea to set limits on how much your child can spend online. This helps to prevent poor money management habits that could follow them into adulthood. The good news is that GoHenry makes it easy to do this. Our app allows you to set spending limits for your child, as well as monitor online activity and transactions with instant notifications. This way, you can be sure that they’re staying safe online and their spending is within sensible parameters. Get started with GoHenry today to help give your child the best financial start in life.
There are a number of things you can do to help keep your child safe online. They include parental controls, setting boundaries for internet use, and keeping track of your child’s activity. While you can’t control everything they do, taking precautions will give you peace of mind by knowing you’re doing your best to protect them.