Top tips on keeping your children safe online

The current situation is forcing most of us to spend more time at home and we are immersed in tablets, PCs and phones more than ever before.

This is also true for our children, who are looking for distractions via technology.

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However, this can prove a dangerous activity if not supervised, as many criminals target children online

So, what can you do to keep your child safe online?

Discuss online safety from an early ageYou need to educate both yourself and your child about the different types of dangers they could be facing online, how to spot them and what to do if they’ve been targeted.It is very important that you teach them to be open with you and inform you if they feel like something is wrong.

Know your child’s behaviourWhen children become victims of online bullying, or other kinds of threats, you will be able to notice a change in their behaviours if you pay attention.

Are they more apathetic? Are they in a bad mood after using their device? These are the things that parents need to keep an eye on.

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Set rules and always stick to themAs an adult, you should be in control. Set boundaries on what your child can and cannot watch online. Make sure you take steps like talking to your internet provider to block any pornographic content. It is also important to limit their screen time.

Be aware of what devices your child is usingIn order for you to be able to supervise your child online, it’s important to know what devices they are using. Check their browsing history from time to time, to make sure they are not accessing dangerous content.

A good tip is to also check the tech recycling bin, you might find surprising things there too.

Use parental blocksMost internet providers offer Parental Control to help you keep your children protected. It’s important to not neglect these and make good use of them. It will save you the time and stress of constantly checking certain sites which would automatically be blocked, and it can make sure your child is spending only a certain amount of time on their device.

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How can we protect our children without disrupting their autonomy?There is a fine line between overseeing your child in order to protect him/her and making them feel like they have no privacy.

Environmental psychologist and wellbeing consultant Lee Chambers was asked by Specops Software for advice on this issue.

“It is never easy to find the balance between your child’s autonomy and safety,” he said.

“And as our children may not always be able to articulate their feelings to us as parents, we must look out for potential warning signs that they may be being bullied online.

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“Look out for cues such as anger or distress after being online or looking anxious while using a device. Maybe they avoid discussion and are secretive about their devices. Or maybe their sleep, appetite or joy for life has changed.

“As parents, we should always look to monitor our children’s use of technology to some extent. Open and honest communication is vital, letting them know that we are there to protect, not punish.

“We can consider parental control apps, data access, and knowing who our child’s contacts are.

“We can also educate ourselves on the latest platforms, acronyms, and trends that our children will have access to. And we should help our children identify what is online bullying.”