Children spend increasingly large amounts of time on the internet these days. But just as we would not send children into the park to play until they were old enough to be safe and make wise decisions, the same is true on the internet. Children need guidance and an understanding of the basic internet rules to keep themselves safe. The communication children have with friends and the apps they are using, especially if they are allowed to join in chat rooms, post videos or play games, all need responsible monitoring. We know children can be exposed, at home, to meeting very unpleasant characters online. They can also view inappropriate content, uploaded unsafe videos and sadly, can even be bullied in their bedrooms. We therefore need to educate them and protect them. Discussing these basic internet safety rules can help to keep your child safe at home and develop healthy habits for being online.
- Discuss and agree as a family how the internet will be used in your home at a level that is appropriate to your children’s ability and age.
- Discuss with your children what they think is and isn’t acceptable to do online, then add your own rules and boundaries to the list.
- Decide on what information should be kept private online, such as contact information, photographs in school uniform, and agree rules for making and meeting online friends.
- Set clear boundaries relating to the use of video chat, live streaming and live voice on different devices; even when children are talking to people they already know, they can still experience risks.
Make the most of the parental controls on your children’s internet enabled devices and games consoles to help restrict access to inappropriate content. They can also help you manage how much time your child spends online.
Be aware that parental control tools and filters are not always 100% effective and you can’t rely on them alone to protect your child online. It is important to monitor and supervise your child’s online activities; where possible access should take place in a family area, but this will depend on the age and ability of your child.
The internet provides vast opportunities for children, both educationally and socially. Encourage your child’s creativity by teaching them how to take photographs or make videos safely; these can be used to make a collage or be shared with family and friends. Being online should be a sociable activity; keep your devices in a communal area and take it in turns to choose a game or video that the whole family can enjoy together.
- Maintain an open mind and a positive attitude when talking with your child about the internet. Ask your child which games, apps, websites or tools they like to use and why; playing together with your child can often open opportunities to discuss safe behaviour online.
- Ask your child if they know where to go for help. Do they know where to find safety advice or information about privacy settings and know how to report or block users on their games and websites?
- Make sure your child knows that they should come to you, or another trusted adult, for help if something happens online that makes them feel scared, worried or uncomfortable.
Helpful websites to explore…
The following websites and resources are places to visit for advice about the tools your children are asking to use and the age restrictions associated with such tools. They also offer advice on how to enable parental settings on devices at home in order to keep your children safer.
• How to enable parental settings on devices at home –
• Age restrictions on social media apps and platforms –
• Potential risks (and age restrictions) of live streaming apps –
• The importance of not believing everything you see online, especially in the current climate
Here are further websites to use to seek additional advice:
- Up-to-date advice on the latest apps and websites which children could be using and a huge range of information from our two advisors who ran workshops in 2023. (The 2 Johns)
- Advice from the local authority ICT service - https://theictservice.org.uk/e-safety/parents-advice/
- NSPCC Online Safety – wide ranging guidance from the NSPCC for keeping children safe online.
- ThinkUKnow - The ThinkUKnow website also supports parents with a whole host of information about keeping children safe online all in one place.
At the Queens’ Federation, we use Purple Mash to support our teaching of Computing. Their ‘Parenting a Digital World’ booklet is informative guide to help support you in enabling your child to grow into a responsible digital citizen who is able to keep themselves safe while, at the same time, getting the very best from the digital world.
In this guide, you will find tips and advice for each of the key areas of online safety for primary-aged children. Each of these areas is further broken down into tips for parents of children aged 5 to 7 and for those of children aged 7 to 11.