As we continue our time in quarantine, and with most children now being homeschooled, screen time is on the rise for parents and children alike.
Now, for us adults who are (hopefully) aware of potential online threats, the most damage that this extra screen time will do to us is strain our eyes and make our backs hurt slightly more than usual!
Children, however, are likely to be completely unaware of what viruses, phishing, social network bullying and online fraud is, or the harm it could potentially bring.
The internet can be a great place for children to learn, but it’s our job to ensure that we teach them about the importance of online safety:
1) Have open discussions with them
Communication is key - the most important thing to do is to have frank and open conversations with your children about online safety. They have to be aware of the potential threats out there from the get-go, but they also must know that you are approachable and understanding when it comes to discussing the websites, apps and platforms that they are using, or any problems they might face on them.
2) Set parental locks
Many websites allow you to set parental locks, which can block any inappropriate content for younger viewers. YouTube now offers a feature called YouTube Kids, which can be linked directly to your personal Google account and is set to only show kid-friendly videos.
Even viewing platforms such as BBC iPlayer offer the chance to set Parental Guidance restraints on certain shows - it just takes a bit of time and organisation!
There are also many parental control software that you can purchase for extra security, such as Open DNS or Qustodio.
3) Check the device privacy and location settings
Before giving your child access to an online device, ensure that its privacy and location settings are in place. This should also apply if you have any older children that are on social networking sites; no one wants a future employer or university admissions tutor snooping on a teenager’s Facebook!
4) Set specific time slots
This isn’t for everyone, but some parents have suggested putting time limits on when your children are on their screens. This means you can be present if need be, to check in on what they’re doing or who they’re speaking to online.
It also encourages the kids to get off of Tik Tok and play football in the garden instead, which can never be a bad thing.
5) Be social-savvy yourself
The best way to protect your children online is to educate yourself on the online world. Ensure that you keep up to speed with the latest threats online and the ways in which you can protect yourself from them. There will always be a new social networking or online streaming platform, but it doesn’t hurt to learn a bit more about what’s out there on the world wide web.
Allowing your children to enter the digital and online worlds may seem daunting - but implementing these 5 safety tips should put your mind at ease.