There are lots of ways in which parents and carers can help their children stay safe online.
Here are some top tips to bear in mind if gifting a device:
- Access assistance
Service providers and social networking companies can advise and help you to ensure your child’s online experiences can be safe and positive.
Store assistants are there to help and support you in choosing a device that’s appropriate for your child or your family’s needs.
Their expertise can also be helpful when it comes to configuring security and privacy settings, so don’t hesitate to ask.
- Consider your family’s needs
There is lots of choice available when it comes to buying devices. You may wish to consider, for example, whether it is important that your child can access the internet?
There are lots of devices which are not internet-enabled which can still be used to play games, take photos, record videos and more.
When choosing a first device to gift to a child, you may wish to consider the additional safety elements inherent in a device which is not connected to the internet, or which does not have this aspect ‘switched on’.
- Think Safety First
The internet and technology can present a world of opportunities to children and young people, but it is important to think safety-first to help best protect them from potential dangers.
There are safety features in-built in most devices – it can be a good idea to have these switched on before gifting a device to a child for the first time.
Safety features such as search engine content filters can also be installed, to help safeguard your child from encountering extreme or inappropriate material.
You might like to share the idea with your child that passwords are like toothbrushes: they’re not for sharing, even with friends!
You can also check settings on any apps your child has access to and ensure location services are turned off so they are not at risk of being located or identified.
- Educate yourself and your child
Be curious! Keeping yourself informed on the latest and popular apps and their functions will help you both understand your child’s online activity and communicate with them about it.
Take an active interest in the apps, games, social networks and sites they are engaging with and keep abreast of trends and developments.
Did you can know you can check the age ratings of social media apps and online gaming platforms to check whether the content is suitable for your child? The PEGI rating provides this detail at www.pegi.info/ie.
The ISPCC Parenting Hub at ISPCC.ie provides support and information for parents on carers on topics including children’s use of devices, exposure to inappropriate online content and screen time.
- Communication is key
Whatever the topic at hand, it can make a significant difference for parents and carers to keep lines of communication open with children and young people. As we say, Talking Makes Us Stronger!
It can help to talk openly with your child in relation to their online activity and try to understand the sites they are visiting, the games they are playing and the privacy settings these feature.
An understanding of the value children place on their online interactions can help to foster an open and honest conversation about online safety.
Creating a trusting and open environment when it comes to online behaviours will encourage your children to share any concerns or negative experiences.
- Support is Available
Be alert to any changes in your child’s behaviour, which may indicate that they are at risk online. For example, they may be withdrawn, moody, exhausted, or they may refuse to talk about their online activity.
While the positives of the online world outweigh the negatives, potential dangers can be faced – including cyberbullying, inappropriate content and online grooming.
Talking to your child is always the best first step, but if you are concerned about your child’s online activity, a quick check of your family devices’ browser history will identify the sites they have been visiting.
Support is available. The ISPCC’s Support Line provides support and information to parents and carers and can be contacted at [email protected].
Further information and advice for parents and carers in supporting children to stay safe online can be found at Webwise.ie.