Staying safe online in the summer holidays – advice for parents and carers

19 Jul 2018 Becca Cawthorne

Children and young people across the UK are getting ready to have more free time to spend with friends and family as the summer holidays get into full swing.

For many young people this time will be spent using the internet to keep in touch with school friends, catch up with the latest apps and online trends, and play their favourite games.

In this blog we look at the ways in which parents and carers can help keep their children safe as they start to spend more time online.

Sit down together

The summer holidays are a great chance to sit down with your children and find out about the things they like to do online. Together you can visit their favourite sites and join in with their favourite games. This is a great way to stay up to date with their online lives and show them that you’re interested in what they are doing.

The holidays are also a good opportunity to have positive conversations about the internet, so if something ever does upset your child online they would feel more confident in confiding in you.  Sometimes young people may find it difficult, or may not want to speak to an adult about their online lives. It’s important to reassure them that no matter what the issue may be, you are there to listen without judgement, and help them without confiscating their devices or punishing them.

Our conversation starters are a great tool to help encourage an open and honest dialogue with your child.   

Become an expert

Although it can sometimes feel like young people are the experts when it comes to different apps and games, it’s important to remember that as an adult you are the expert in keeping them safe.

To learn more about the apps, games and services children are using you can spend some time on them, familiarise yourself with their reporting and blocking features and ensure that you have the knowledge to be able to help them if they face a problem over the summer holidays or in the future.

Our recent blog for parents and carers ‘but everyone else is playing it!’ looks at how to decide what games and apps are suitable for children and young people.

Find fun things to do together online

As you and your children will be spending more time together, why not find some fun and engaging ways to use technology and talk about keeping safe:

  • Read Digiduck’s Big Decision with your children aged 3 – 7, this story follows the lovable Digiduck as he makes some tough decision about how to be a good friend online
  • Have an adventure with Kara, Winston and the SMART Crew as they navigate the online world, and help them to make SMART online decisions
  • Watch the Childnet Film Competition winning films, these have been made by young people across the country and look at issues such as digital footprints, positive comments and the ways in which you can connect respect.
  • Spend some time on BBC Own It: the website for 7-11 year olds has real-life stories, advice from experts, fun quizzes, and videos with CBBC presenters, celebs, and star vloggers
  • Get creative: Look up recipes and ways to be creative online together and replicate this offline
  • Create your own vlogs or blogs to chronicle the fun things that you did over summer 2018!

Take time to do a privacy check up

During the summer holidays, young people may want to keep in touch with their friends through social networking sites or games. It’s a good time to ask them about what sites they use, and do a privacy check-up.

Encourage them to use the privacy tools on the services they use, so that the content they post is only available to people they know and trust in real life.

To help set these up, the UK Safer Internet Centre has a guide to the privacy settings of different sites .  You can also download the UK Safer Internet Centre’s safety checklists for popular sites such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.  

Have a conversation about sharing holiday pictures

Some children may want to share photos and videos online of what they are getting up to in their summer holidays. Talk to them about what types of photos are appropriate to share, and who they are okay to share with. Photos can hold clues that give away personal information. For example, when sharing a selfie, are there any landmarks or street signs that give away your location?

This is true for photos you might share of your children too! It’s always worth asking children if they are happy with an image you want to share online. We have written some guidance for parents looking at ‘sharenting’ and the impact of sharing online.

Make a family agreement

family agreement is a great way to start a conversation with your whole family about how you all use the internet and discuss together how to behave in a positive way when online at home, at school or at a friend’s house. 

The agreement involves generating promises, these are positive statements about how your family want to look after each other online and how you should treat others online. The summer can be one of the best times to sit down as a family and agree these promises together. We have created some handy guidance to help you put the family agreement into practice.

And most importantly: enjoy the summer holidays!

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