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Online Safety

The last year has been anything but normal, and as a result, it’s likely that children are going to continue to spend more time online. From advice on gaming to helping manage your child’s wellbeing online, our lockdown hub has everything you need to help keep them safe.

The best way to keep your children safe online is to have regular conversations around online safety, regularly check phone and app settings together, and to manage time online.

Here are 8 top tips for keeping your children safe online beyond lockdown:

It’s important to work together as a family to help keep your children safe online. We’ve created four simple steps so you Talk, Explore, Agree and Manage online safety.

Talk to your child regularly about what they’re doing online and how to stay safe. Let them know they can come to you, another trusted adult or Childline if they’re feeling worried or upset by anything they’ve seen. Why not play our Parents vs Children game to help get the conversation started?

Explore your child’s online activities together. Understand why they like using certain apps or games and make sure they know what they can do to keep themselves safe.

Agree your own online rules as a family.

Manage your technology and use the settings available to keep your child safe. 

The online world has helped us keep in touch with family and friends we haven’t been able to see this year. But sometimes children might talk to people they don’t know online, like on games or social media sites.

Make sure you’re chatting regularly to your child about who they’re talking to online and which apps they’re using. Remind them that they shouldn’t share any personal information, like names, locations or links to other social media sites. Tell them if someone starts asking them questions or suggests using another app such as Snapchat or Instagram that they should come and tell you.

Explore safety settings together like ‘block’ and ‘report’ so your child knows how to stop unwanted contact or end an online chat if it’s not about the game.

It can be helpful to supervise children when they’re online but it can also be time consuming! If your child is chatting or playing with friends online, you could always talk to other parents and see if you can take it in turns to supervise and support them, just like you would if they were at each other’s houses.

To help you keep your children safe, we’ve created some activity sheets to make it even easier for you to have conversations about staying safe online. Print off our word search and use the words as prompts for an online safety chat. Or use our countryside and city colouring in sheets to talk about what your child likes doing online and ways to stay safe.

Explore all our activity sheets and resources

If your child is using new apps or playing popular games, it can be hard to know if they’re age-appropriate or not. To make it more confusing, there’s often an official, app store and PEGI rating, which is sometimes based on age and other types on content. But don’t worry, we are here to help with age and content ratings in our advice article.

Age and content ratings on apps and games

At the moment, the internet is playing a really important role for children and families, whether it’s for chatting, gaming, schooling, or even exercising. And because we’re all using it more and in different ways, you might need to be flexible with the normal rules, such as how long your child is spending online.

It’s ok to be flexible, but make sure you talk to your child about any new rules and remind them they can talk to you about anything they see or do online. Create a family agreement together and agree which rules might change during lockdown. Family agreements are designed to be flexible to your family’s needs so it’s important to update them when situations change.

Do you know the difference between video chatting, video sharing and livestreaming? Don’t worry if the answer is no – it can be confusing (especially when some apps do more than one!) Right now, it’s likely that a lot of children are spending more time doing all three, so read our advice article on what they all mean, why children use them and how to keep them safe.

Video chat, video sharing and livestreaming

Playing games online can be a great way for children to be creative, learn new skills and stay connected with friends over lockdown. But with so many different games available, and new ones popping up all the time, it can be difficult to stay on top of what your child is doing.

Familiarise yourself with your child’s favourite game and use our reviews to help you decide whether it’s appropriate for them to use. Look out for things like the age rating and whether it has any chat features.

Before you let your child use a new game, agree some rules around who they can play with and when. Check out our advice on gaming for other tips to help keep your children safe playing games online.  

Explore gaming advice

Apps like Net Aware can be added to your smartphone or tablet and make it easy to come back and find the latest online safety information and advice.

It’s easy to do – simply visit a site such as Net Aware or similar app on your device and follow these steps:

  • Android – click in the top right hand corner (usually on the three lines or three dots) and select ‘add to home screen’ or ‘add to apps screen’
  • iOS – click on the share icon at the bottom of the screen (it looks like a square with an arrow) and select ‘add to home screen’