Do you have a smart TV? Discover how to make it safe for your children

Make sure your kids stay safe when using your internet-enabled smart TV.

Smart TVs are just like regular TVs but they’re connected to the internet. This means you can use them to send emails, browse the web and download apps. The technology opens up a world of opportunity, but is also a minefield for parents who let their children use one.

According to Ofcom, a staggering 82% of owners access and browse the internet through their smart TV. So how do you make sure your kids don’t see anything they shouldn’t?

[Read more: How you can keep your children safe on social media]

Internet Matters, a not for profit e-safety organization, has a wealth of information to help keep children safe in the digital world.

Smart TVs: Features to be aware of

Parental controls: Like PCs and smartphones, smart TVs let you set up parental controls to stop children seeing what they shouldn’t. The manual for your smart TV should tell you how to set up parental controls. Lost yours? Consult the free database over at Manuals Online.

Content: Smart TVs offer plenty of children’s channels, so have a look and see which offer the most suitable content for the best price (if they charge, that is - some are free). Some also let you set up user accounts for children of different ages, and secure the set with a PIN so your child can't download lots of pay-as-you-go content and run up a huge bill.

Apps: Terrestrial catch-up apps like BBC iPlayer (and BBC iPlayer Kids), All4 and ITV Player are free to watch, but ones like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video charge a subscription. Whichever you install, make sure you’ve adjusted the settings so your kids can’t watch anything unsuitable.

Internet Matters has step-by-step instructions to help you activate parental controls on a wide range of entertainment devices and platforms including Netflix.

Browsing: Smart TVs connect to your home broadband connection. Make sure you set up parental filters for your broadband, and your TV — like any device connected to your router — won’t be able to display unsuitable websites or content. If you’ve got BT broadband follow the instructions below.

Internet connectivity: You can connect your smart TV to your router either over wi-fi or through a wired ethernet cable. Ethernet is usually faster and more reliable, but wi-fi means no unsightly cables trailing through the house.

Smart TV and controller

BT Broadband Parental Controls

BT Broadband customers can activate Parental Controls as part of your free BT Extras

BT Parental Controls lets you select a fiilter level, so you can determine the type of content to block. You can also block specific websites and set homework filters.

To be safe, you can block all media streaming devices — this blocks all sites that stream content, be it internet radio, internet TV, or music. Media downloads, and music sites run by fans, musicians, bands or record labels will also be blocked.

Find out more information on BT Parental Controls.

[Read more: Smartphone Parental Controls - how BT customers can keep their children safe online]

BT TV Parental Controls

You can aset a PIN on your BT TV set-top box. Setting a PIN allows you to restrict access to programmes with age ratings, those that haven't been given age ratings and recordings made during the watershed.

By default the PIN is 1234. When you set your box up for the first time, you'll need create a new PIN along with a security question.

How to change your BT TV pin

  1. From the Home (or YouView) button, and go to Settings - Parental Controls - Change Parental Control PIN
  2. Enter your original PIN. If you’ve never set one up, this will be 1234 
  3. Add a new password

How to set to set-up BT TV Parental Controls

From the Home (or YouView) button, and go to Settings - Parental Controls - Restrict Rated Programmes. Options include:

  • Restrict Rated Programmes: Set the age level restriction and a PIN will be needed to watch shows with a higher age rating. 
  • Guidance and Watershed: Activate this and you'll need a PIN to watch anything rated guidance or you recorded after the watershed.

Girl watching TV

Picking a TV manufacturer

Lots of companies make smart TVs and streaming boxes (which essentially turn your telly into a smart TV). Internet Matters has a range of reviews for TVs including Amazon Fire TV, NVIDIA Shield, Samsung and Panasonic.

For further information about online safety concerns, visit Internet Matters - an online safety organisation offering a wealth of free, practical advice to parents and carers to help keep children safe online.

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