Protecting young people from inappropriate online content.
Parental controls are designed to help protect children from inappropriate content online, such as pornography, age restricted apps, or other adult content. These controls can be used in various ways, for example to help ensure that children access only age-appropriate content, to set usage times, to monitor activity, or to help prevent in-app purchases.
Best practices for parents and carers
Decide what’s right for your family
Creating a family agreement allows you to have conversations about setting boundaries. It’s important that you involve yourself in your child’s online world, so as a simple starting point you could ask them what their favourite websites or games are, and why they like them. The filtering options that you put in place may also change over time, as your children get older and more independent, and their technology use changes too.
Check your settings regularly
Children can become accomplished users of technology and may learn how to disable or bypass the parental controls in place. Therefore, it’s important to talk to your children from the outset about why the settings are there, and the importance of respecting them. Regularly checking the filtering on your family’s devices could also form part of your agreement.
Give children the skills they need
No parental controls or filtering options are guaranteed to be 100% effective. They are a very useful tool to improve the quality of online experiences, but they cannot offer a ‘complete’ solution. It is therefore essential to talk with your children about their online activities, so they know what to do if they encounter inappropriate content.
Establish some rules
If you have parental controls from your internet provider on your home WiFi, these will not cover the use of 3G, 4G or 5G at home. Similarly, if your child goes to a friend’s house where there are no controls in place, they may be able to access unrestricted content. For these reasons, it’s important to educate your child about the potential risks online and establish rules concerning the sites that are suitable or inappropriate to visit.
Best practices for schools
Explain the limitations
Children can become accomplished users of technology and may learn how to disable or bypass the parental controls in place. Talking to children from the outset about why the settings are there, and the importance of respecting them, is key.
Communication the key
Parental controls are a very useful tool to improve the quality of online experiences but, because they cannot offer a ‘complete’ solution, it is essential to talk with children about what to do if they encounter inappropriate content.
Advice and guidance, from simply turning over the tablet or phone and going to get an adult, to making a report online using official reporting channels, will be extremely beneficial for children.
Educational resources about online bullying and kindness from the UK Safer Internet Centre and other organisations
Cyberbullying Guidance for Schools
Guidance for Schools: Understand, Prevent and Respond to Cyberbullying
Professionals Online Safety Helpline
The UK Safer Internet Centre’s helpline supports the children’s workforce with online safety issues
Digital wellbeing hub
SWGfL have created a digital wellbeing hub to support young people with having healthier relationships with technology
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Frequently asked questions on Parental Controls
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