The internet is a wonderful and powerful tool. For many of us it is part of our daily lives, either professionally or socially – or both. However, growing up with access to the internet is something that, as parents and carers, we have not experienced.
So, that’s why we put together our ‘Internet Safety Building Blocks’. In support of the UK Safer Internet Day 2023.
Our simple steps can be introduced to a family at any age. To help you to keep your child safe when using the internet, by laying the foundation for open and honest discussions.
The best way to monitor and guide your child when using the internet safely is to make sure you understand the sites or games they are/will use.
Familiarise yourself with the site and its content before allowing your child to create an account or interact with a new website. You can do this by reading reviews from other parents. As well as, checking age certificates and the website safety features. Such as, the ability to block and report other users, and how to take down posts and comments quickly.
Discuss these features with your child to arm them with the knowledge they need to stay safe before spending time on the site.
As children grow, they want to expand the sites and devices they use. Make sure these are safe and appropriate by exploring them together.
This will give you the opportunity to have open discussions with your child:
What they believe the site/device is used for?
Who else has access or uses?
How your child can keep safe by not sharing personal information or details?
Also, you will be able to review the parental features and set up the login information together. This will make you aware of what they have access to on the sites/devices.
Most sites, apps and all video games supply age restrictions and certificates, similar to those supplied for films. These ratings clearly label the minimum age of the players.
Make sure your child is not exposed to inappropriate content by only allowing access to the certificates that reflect their age and under.
However, even if the game or site is rated for your child’s age, always monitor the content with them as every child matures at different rates. Also, your little one may have questions for you or may find some content upsetting.
Sharing these moments and open conversations at an early age, will provide your child with knowledge and understanding to build a healthy relationship with digital content.
Whether you go old school with pen and paper or create a flashy power point, the process of sitting down together to create a list of agreements is important.
Therefore, your child is involved in the process and is part of the discussion to agree how you are expected to use the internet at home. As well as, what to do if certain situations arise.
From not signing up to new sites without parental permission, to rules for everyone. Such as, no devices at the dinner table and screen time limits. You can update the family agreement yearly, to make sure the rules stay relevant and are adhered to by everyone.
Your child must understand that the people they speak to online may lie about who they are. They should be encouraged to only speak with the friends they have in real life.
You can monitor this by opening conversations with the parents of your child’s friends. Thereby, making sure all the children involved are safe and only speak to the friends they know.
Your child also needs to understand that, although they may speak with someone online, they are still a stranger. This means, they should never arrange to meet up with anyone without their parent present.
Agree with your child, that they should speak with you before accepting any new friends over social media. Even if they think they know them. So, you can make sure it is who they believe it to be.
It is easy for children to forget that the people they are speaking to online are real and have feelings that can be hurt.
Even at an early age, it is important to make your little one aware of cyber bullying. At our nurseries, we introduce the topic by reading internet safety stories (see our list below).
If your child tells you they are being bullied, it is important to keep calm. As, this will already be an emotional situation for your little one. There are many steps to help you in this situation. From choosing to report or block individuals or content online, to speaking with the school and taking further action if bullying continues.
You’re not alone. There are resources to lend support and guidance to make sure the internet is a great source of learning, play and socialising safely.
These larger issues can be better digested and understood by young children through stories. Here are a few your family can read together:
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