Experts answer: “The online world feels like such a minefield. How can I keep my kids safe?”
The Education Team deliver education and information sessions directly with children and young people aged 3-18 years old, as well as parents, carers, teachers and professionals.
In this series we will answer some of the most frequent questions asked by parents and carers about helping their children navigate the internet.
In this blog, Childnet’s Education Manager Amy looks to offer advice about keeping your children safe online.
“The online world feels like such a minefield. How can I keep my kids safe?”
One of the most common things we hear from parents and carers is that the internet can feel like a scary space to give your children access to. It’s important to acknowledge that this is an understandable and reasonable response to the risks we hear about all the time.
However, as someone who spends every day thinking about how to support children and young people to stay safe when they’re using technology, and who hears first hand about the fantastic online experiences they enjoy, I hope I can offer some advice, and maybe a little reassurance too.
Is the internet all bad?
When we speak to children and young people about the internet, the first thing they want to share is always what they love the most about life online: from the games they play, to the friends they have made, to the videos they watch or the viral trends they’re talking about. Spending time online offers opportunities, excitement, community, and joy.
It’s also an important part of life, and one that many of us as adults would struggle without. This is why banning tech, as appealing as it may sometimes feel, is hard to do in practice and can lead to resentment when children feel excluded or left out from the experiences their friends get to enjoy.
How can I help my child to stay safe online?
Of course, that doesn’t mean that giving children free reign is the answer either. Parental controls, content filters and clear boundaries and expectations for online behaviour all have a role to play in helping children to stay safe online. Remember that you’re not on your own and there is support available.
In fact, you don’t need to look far to find help if you need it. Your child’s school is often the best place to go for support with online concerns, and we hear a lot that talking to other parents and carers about their approaches can be helpful too.
What is digital resilience? Building digital resilience for your child
We need to give children and young people the tools to be resilient online; to recognise risks before they can cause harm, and to recover from setbacks when things go wrong. From what I’ve seen, many children are already doing this but having your help is really important too!
The best thing you can do is start an open and honest conversation with your children about their online experiences – the good and the bad. Make sure they know they can come to you for help if they need it and try to make conversations about life online part of your everyday life. If your child does tell you something worrying, remember that there are tools that can help, and plenty of places you can go for further support, including your child’s school.
Whilst the online world can seem scary, staying calm, asking questions, and sharing online experiences together can help you understand what they’re facing. Remember there are plenty of positives to be found and we can all work together to make the internet safer.