Step 1 – Talk to your child
- Speak to your child about what they enjoy doing online – this will give you a much better idea of what they’re getting up to.
- Step into their ‘cyberworld’. If you are unsure about how the latest technology works explore it with your child – ask them to demonstrate their favourite apps and ‘educate’ you about how it works. This is a really useful starting-point for discussion with your child. Alternatively, refer to the links on this page parents’ guide to social media.
- Build a positive and open relationship in terms of your child’s use of the internet. Encourage them to speak openly and show an interest in how they use social media.
Information Guide: Sexting
Information Guide: Online Grooming
A PARENT’S GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA
Step 2 – Start by being safe
- Talk to your child about the importance of staying safe online. It’s easier to have conversations about online safety little and often, rather than trying to cover everything at once.
- Try to make your child aware that they can always share concerns without being judged – make them feel safe.
- Consider using parental controls to filter, restrict, monitor and report content.
- Check, with your child, if any of their apps have ‘geo-location’ enabled. This shares their location and it is vital that this is disabled. Also it’s worth checking their ‘tagging’ settings so that when others are posting or sharing photos online, your child’s identity is not revealed.
- If you have serious concerns, consider taking a look at their Internet History button and links on your web browser to see which sites your child has recently visited. However this can damage trust so proceed with caution!
Parental advice on filtering
Step 3 – Establish ground rules
Agree on some ground rules together. These will depend on your child’s age and what you feel is appropriate for them, to avoid confusion, talk about the rules and the consequences for breaking them. You might want to consider:
- The amount of time your child can spend online.
- When your child can go online.
- The websites they can visit or activities they can take participate in.
- The type of images and videos which would be appropriate to share
- How to treat people online e.g. not post anything which they wouldn’t say face-to-face.
If your child plays online games:
- Check the age rating before they play. Look out for these symbols:
- If your child plays online games with people that they’ve never met then you need to be confident that your child knows how to keep themselves safe e.g. don’t give out personal information, don’t agree to meet unless it’s supervised to your satisfaction and ensure they’re confident enough to tell you if they have any issues or concerns.
- Negotiate the amount of time they spend playing online games.
Step 4 – Teach them to protect their privacy
Discuss the consequences of revealing personal information online and make sure that your children know:
Talk to your child about what to do if they see content or are contacted by someone that worries or upsets them. You need to be ready to act if your child feels uncomfortable with anything they experience online. Let them know that they can tell you, or another trusted adult, if they are having a problem.
- Never to give their name, phone number, e-mail address, password, postal address, school, or picture without your permission.
- Not to open e-mails from people they don’t know.
- Not to respond to hurtful or disturbing messages but to report them instead.
- Not to get together with anyone they “meet” online.
- Teach your child to log out of computers once they have finished their work.
- Once something goes public, it can be very difficult to undo.
Ensure they know:
- How to use the ‘report abuse’ button on the sites they visit.
- How to block unwanted messages.
- What to do if they discover a site that makes them feel uncomfortable.