10 Expert Tips To Help Children Stay Safe And Responsible Online
Social media and the online world are part of life – but guiding youngsters on using it safely can be tricky
28 January 2019
All Credits: PA
Children aren’t officially allowed to use most social media platforms until they are 13 – but the reality is, for many of them, it’s a part of the online world they’re venturing into much earlier.
YouGov research shows that nearly half of children (48%) are aware of social media by the age of seven, with a third saying they’d looked at or used social media by that age. And even when youngsters are technically old enough to have their own accounts, it can still be a tricky landscape to navigate.
For parents, the issue of protecting children online often focuses on safety – which is, of course, very important, but it’s not the only factor to consider.
2. Work As A Team
Open up a conversation with kids about social media (Thinkstock/PA)
Involve your children when discussing and creating digital household rules, so they feel heard. Listening to your child and their needs around technology will help them remember, enforce and respect what you agree on. Be consistent with rules – for example, if you agree to not allow phones at the table or bedroom, either stick to it or make a point of changing the rule.
3. Think About Granny
Encourage your child to follow the ‘Granny Rule’: If you wouldn’t be happy with your granny seeing it, don’t post it. It will get your child thinking before sharing something they may regret – especially as it could be online forever. A useful tool for introducing children to the topic of oversharing is Digital Parenting’s digital bedtime story #Goldilocks, which retells the classic fairy tale to teach children about being responsible online.
4. Find Reason Behind Rules
Set boundaries for your children which are both age-appropriate and reasonable. Chat to a few of your children’s friends’ parents and find out what rules they’re setting. If your rules are vastly different from their friends’, you may want to re-evaluate.
5. Explore Safety Features First
Most social media sites have their own safety features and reporting procedures. If your child is setting up a new social media account, help them explore these settings and tools. Some of the most important include selecting the right privacy and security options, and checking how to block or report certain users if something goes wrong online.
6. Engage In Their World
Being online is part of life for many youngsters (Thinkstock/PA)
Around 60% of children say parents don’t discuss issues around digital life. Maintain an open and honest dialogue, and try to understand your child’s online world by asking about their favourite vlogger, game or activity.
7. Be Aware Others Can See Your Location
Location services on apps can be a fun and inventive way of showing friends and family where you are. But if your child doesn’t turn off settings on certain apps, others can track their whereabouts in real time. It’s important to help your child manage their location settings, so they’re only sharing their location when they want to. For example, Snapchat users can switch to ‘Ghost Mode’ to avoid being tracked.