Advice for giving technology gifts this Christmas

19 Dec 2018 Becca Cawthorne

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday over, and Christmas not far away, we look at the things you can do before handing over any tech presents on Christmas day

Technology can be a great and exciting gift for young people at Christmas. Games consoles, tablets and mobile phones are often at the top of a child’s letter to Santa. We have created some top tips for parents and carers, looking at what you can do before these gifts arrive under the tree on the 25th December.

Have a look at parental controls:

Have a look at the device before Christmas day. Take the time to install the parental controls and safety settings that you want onto the device. This way you know how the device works and don’t have to worry about finding time to install parental controls once your child already has access to the device.

If you have not yet bought the device it is a good idea to look at the parental controls that are available on it, speak to the team at the shop you buy it from, ask other parents about their experiences, and also read reviews and instructions online.

You can read our advice about smartphones, gaming devices, tablets and other internet connected devices in our parent’s guide to technology.

It is also important to look at what parental controls you have set up on your home internet, as this will help reduce the chances of children stumbling across something inappropriate while browsing the internet. Internet providers offer free parental controls that you may find useful. You can read the UKSIC guide to parental controls offered by home internet providers here.

It’s important to remember that no filter is ever 100% effective on its own and any controls should only be used if they work for you and your family.

Have a go on the device yourself

The easiest way to get to know the safety settings, reporting tools and other features available on the device you’ve just bought is by having a play on it yourself!

Before wrapping up the new toy, why not charge it up and have a go navigating the tools and resources that are available on it. This also means that first thing on Christmas morning you know you are handing over a fully charged and working device!

Make a family agreement

Making a family agreement is a great way to think about how your family uses the internet, and to help make sure that everybody understands the importance of staying safe and positive online. A family agreement is a chance for you to discuss how your family uses the internet. It can include how often you use technology, if it is allowed to be used in communal spaces like at the kitchen table, and if permission needs to be gained before downloading any new apps.

Take a look at our free family agreement template and guidance to come up with an agreement that works for you and your family.

If you already have a family agreement, it is a good idea to keep updating this as your family’s use of online services change, or whenever you get a new device!

Talk to your child about using technology safely

One of the most important things you can do before handing over a piece of technology is to talk to your child. Having a conversation shows your child that you are engaged in their online lives and that you are available and interested in helping them, should they face difficulties whilst using technology or spending time online. Some conversation starters that could help you to have these discussions include:

  • What will you use this device for?
  • Can you show me what your favourite thing to do online is?
  • Can you show me how to play on your favourite game?
  • What tips can you give me about spending time online?
  • What is OK and not OK to share online?
  • What would you do if something worries you whilst you’re online?
  • Do you know how you block or report on the games you’re playing? Can you show me how to do it?

Resources to help you:

  • Childnet Hot Topics for Parents: From cyberbullying to Digital wellbeing, our hot topics give information and advice on issues affecting young people online.
  • Keeping under fives safe online: Updated in time for Christmas, this resource gives top tips that parent can put in place at home to help keep young children safe online.
  • Common Sense Media: Reviews from parents, young people and experts looking at all the latest games, apps, services and films to help you decide if something is appropriate for your child.
  • Ask about games gives guidance about PEGI Ratings, as well as the benefits of young people playing games online.
  • eSafety Gift Guide from the Australian Office of the eSafety Commissioner. This covers a variety of tech gifts you may be thinking about this Christmas.

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