Keeping your child happy and safe online
We know that whilst we were closed, parents and carers were having to help their children learn through technology.
This can feel overwhelming, so here are six key ways children can use the internet and what you should know about each one.
1. Learning Online
The Internet is often the first (and only) stop for pupils who have a project to research or a question they want answered.
Advice for you: Use child-safe search engines. Visit www.schoolfamily.com. Focus on results from trusted resources, such as the websites of established organisations and well-known newspapers and magazines.
2. Visiting Virtual Worlds
Children of all ages are drawn to virtual worlds where they can customize and control their own characters (or 'avatars'), play games, interact with other players.
Advice for you: Ask your child for a tour of their favourite virtual worlds. Check out the privacy features and parental controls.
3. Social Networking
Social networking sites are the online equivalent of hanging out with friends. They allow users to stay in touch through instant messaging, posting public messages to one another's profiles, sharing photos and videos, playing online games, sending virtual gifts, and much more. Privacy settings allow users to restrict who can view their profiles.
Advice for you: Face book requires everyone to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account. Creating an account with false info is in violation of their terms . Join Facebook or similar and go through the privacy controls with your child, get them to guide you through it. Make friends with them online, then you can keep an eye on them. Also a good rule of thumb is that only people your child has met in person should have access to their social networking profile.
4. Staying in Touch With Friends
Once children reach their preteen and teenage years, they begin texting and instant messaging and sending pictures/videos through computers, mobile phones, and other mobile devices.
Advice for you: Ask your child to think about whether he would like any of the texts or pictures he meant for only one friend to appear on the mobile phones and computer screens of all his classmates...
5. Posting and Viewing Videos
Video-sharing sites are incredibly popular with children. The video-sharing site YouTube has a policy against sexually explicit content and hate speech, but it relies on users to flag content as objectionable. Sit down with your child when she logs onto video-sharing sites so you can guide her choices. Tell her that if you're not with her and she sees something upsetting, she should get you. It's important that you know what she sees so you can figure out together what to do about it.
6. Playing Games
Games such as Xbox Live, allow players to interact online through text messaging or voice chat using a headset. If your child plays online games, set a rule that he plays only with people he knows in person.
As your child grows and digital technology evolves, keep the lines of communication open. Show that you're interested in their online life. But don't worry if you're always a few steps behind. Because as a parent your job isn't to hold your child's hand every step of the way. It's to prepare them to one day go out into the world without you. Both online and off.
Here are some useful links: