These top tips have been written for you (parents and carers) to share, and talk about, with your children. It’s never too early to talk about life online!
Become internet detectives
Remind your child that not everything they read online is true….
Whether your child likes games, videos or learning about their favourite dinosaur online, it’s important they recognise that not everything they see or hear will be true. Talk about this together or find some examples you could examine as ‘internet detectives.’ Keep it simple by telling them, “The internet can be great for finding things out, but you need to remember that not everything online is true! Some things might be a joke, an opinion, a mistake, or deliberately untrue.”
Compare with trusted sources
Help to check online information and content using other websites….
It is important that your child knows that information online can be put there by anyone! Therefore, because it may be unreliable, they need to check in other places too - to see if other sources say the same thing, or something different. You can do this by looking on at least two other websites, to compare the information. Start by using websites created by organisations that you know and trust, and those that have information specifically created for children.
Use books and television
Remind your child they can also fact-check information offline….
Checking the information that you find online, can be done offline too! Ask your child if they can think of any other places that they can look for information, e.g. by looking in a non-fiction book (e.g. an encyclopaedia), by watching a TV documentary, or by asking someone who knows about the subject. You don’t have to do all these things, for every single fact that you find, but it’s important to remember that a range of offline options are available too.
Be aware of strangers
Talk about who children can and cannot trust on the internet….
There are a huge range of sites and services that allow communication between users. A good example of this is when it comes to playing online games. Explain to your child that it is safest only to talk to people online that you already know, like your family and close friends. Explore the apps that your children want to use and look for the safety / privacy settings available – they may include features that allow you to control who your child can interact with. Remember, friends made online are still strangers and so all personal information must be kept safe.
Reach out for help
Encourage your child to discuss any concerns with someone they trust….
Let your child know that the best way to address any problem they have online, is to tell a trusted adult immediately. For example, this might include someone sending them a friend request; an online message; telling them to visit a specific website, or app; or asking them for their personal information. Reassure them that if anything happens online that they are unsure about, or makes them feel worried or upset, they can come to you for help.