How to keep children safe with parental controls
Our world is more connected than ever and with today being Safer Internet Day, it is important that we know how to keep our children safe when they are using the internet.
What are parental controls?
As described by the NSPCC, parental controls can help you to block or filter upsetting or inappropriate content as well as control purchases within apps.
This can help you to:
- Plan what time of day your child can go online and how long for
- Create content filters to block apps that may have inappropriate content
- Manage the content that different family members can see
Why are parental controls important?
Parental controls are important because they allow you to control what your child can see, to make sure that they don’t access inappropriate or potentially harmful content online. Children are naturally curious and even the most innocently intended web searches could lead to not so innocent results! Online risks can be summarised with the three C’s: Content, Contact and Conduct.
Where to set up parental controls?
It is often recommended to set up parental controls for:
- Mobiles, tablets and computers
- Home internet – you can use a filter to control what you and your family can see
- Games consoles
- Film, music and TV subscriptions such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV and Spotify
- Search engines
- Social media
You can also install parental control software on your child’s phone or tablets, games consoles, laptops and home internet to help monitor your child’s screen time.
How to talk to your child about internet safety and parent controls
- A helpful mantra to use is “don’t spy, but trust and verify”. You don’t need to invade your child’s privacy, instead regularly check in with them to see that everything is okay.
- Ask them about the apps they most like using so you can understand what they’re doing online.
- Establish open, trusting communication with them and explain that you want to protect them from risks such as grooming and inappropriate content. This can help your child feel safe to come to you for support if they experience this.
- Play internet safety games with your child to get them up to speed on the latest threats – a good resource is NSTeens.
Use current issues in the news relating to hacking, cybercrime, and internet predators as talking points – if your child is older, this provides a good opportunity to talk about what this means and what to do if it occurs.
Parental controls are a great way to help prevent your child from accessing unsuitable content online and to teach them about managing their screen time. However, it is just as important to maintain open communication with your child, to remain aware of what they are doing online and so they can come to you for reassurance if they encounter anything inappropriate or distressing.
For further support you can:
- Call the O2 NSPCC Advice Line on 0808 800 5002 for advice on apps, sites, games and online safety
- Use Net Aware and Common Sense Media to have a look at the apps, sites and games children like to play online
- Use the Good App Guide to find apps that do not have third party advertisements, in-app purchases or external links
- Access the UK Safer Internet Centre, which is also a good resource where you can find online safety tips and advice to help children and young people stay safe online