Children are incredibly tech savvy, they use computers at school from an early age and can often grasp technology quicker than adults.
As a parent, you want to strike the right balance between tablet, smartphone and games console fun and non-tech time, while ensuring they use their gadgets safely.
Internet Matters, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to children’s safety, has some useful tips to help.
3 tips for online protection
Tip 1: Find out what your child spends their time doing online and do it together. Ask them to show you their favourite websites, apps or games, talk to them about how they work, why they enjoy them, and play or try them together.
Tip 2: Set boundaries on gadget use. Agree with your child how often they can use their devices each day and where they can use them, and keep an eye on them to ensure they stick to it. Organise some activities that get them out and about that don’t involve technology.
Tip 3: Make sure your child’s devices have parental controls activated and their social network privacy settings are locked down.
BT Broadband customers can set up BT Parental Controls, including choosing filter levels and blocking websites.
Online dangers parents need to be aware of
It's really important to talk to your child about some issues they might face online.
Cyberbullying: This is a type of bullying that takes place online, via social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and online forums, or via a mobile phone. Unlike real-world bullying, cyberbullying can take place at home, making it hard for a child to escape.
Cyberbullying can involve sending abusive messages, posting offensive or threatening comments on social networks, posting private pictures without permission or excluding someone from playing an online game.
Social media use: Social media websites like Facebook and Snapchat are used by many young people to share their lives and talk to new and existing friends.
Chatting with strangers, posting embarrassing images and sharing personal information are just some of the issues they need to be aware of.
Sexting: This is when sexually explicit messages are sent via text, email or instant message. It isn’t restricted to words and can include videos and photos.
Sexting is on the rise for young people, with one in four children saying they’ve received an unwanted sexual image.* Many young people send explicit messages or images as a way of expressing their feelings, without realising the consequences.
Inappropriate content: If your child uses the internet they may see photos or videos, or read things that aren’t suitable, which they might find upsetting. This includes pornography, violence, swearing and cruelty to people and animals, and websites that encourage religious extremism, crime and eating disorders. Protect your child by using filters such as BT Parental Controls to block content.
*Beat Bullying Virtual Violence report (2012)
For a comprehensive and easy-to-use resource of the most up-to-date information for keeping your child safe online, check out Internet Matters