How to protect your children online
At Huckleberry Therapeutic School, we aim to develop a school community of staff, children, parents and carers, which understands and promotes the responsible use of technology. Online safety is embedded into our whole school curriculum to ensure that children know how to use the internet safely and understand the potential risks involved with using the internet at school, at home and on mobile technology.
Technology and gaming is advancing at such a rapid pace that it can feel daunting trying to keep up-to-date with what your children are doing online. However, it is important that you understand and feel confident with the internet, in order to communicate the dangers and risks with your children.
1. Start a Conversation
One of the most effective ways of keeping your child safe online is to have conversations with them. Make sure that you have an open and honest relationship with your children to be able to talk about online safety.
2. Reinforce the Rule “Don’t Talk to Strangers”
Many online games, whether on a phone, tablet, console or computer, allow players to communicate to other players through messaging. Make sure that you know who your child is speaking to online. Talk to your child about only speaking to people they know in person online and that even those who have similar interests and seem like our online ‘friend’ are still a stranger.
3. Place Consoles, Computers and Tablets in a Common Area of the House
Make sure that children are on the internet in a room where you can see them and can monitor what they are doing online.
4. Set up Parental Controls
Parental controls are designed to help protect children from inappropriate content on the internet. These controls can be used to limit access to only age-appropriate content, to block in-app purchases (and prevent big bills), to set usage timers and to monitor their activity.
You can also download free online access control software that allows you to monitor your child’s internet usage and to block non-age-appropriate material.
5. Teach your Child about Personal Information
Discuss with your child what information is okay to share with players online and what information should be kept private. Children should never give out their full name, address, telephone number or school name. Even information about the local sports team or attraction could give away their identities. Also be aware that sharing photos can give away personal or locational information such as a house number, school badge or a local football club logo.
6. Know your Child’s Passwords
Set up accounts in your name and know the passwords to the games and accounts that your children are using. Let your children know that you will be monitoring their online activity to ensure that they are safe online.
7. Play the Games Yourself
Play the games that your children want to play so that you can check they are age appropriate and so that you know what the game involves. Have a go at playing the games with your children so that you can talk to your children about what they are doing online.
8. Check that Games are Age-Appropriate
Before your child begins playing a new game, it is important that you find out about the game and check that the game’s content is appropriate. Common Sense Media and Net Aware are websites that have reviewed games, apps, websites and movies to provide information for parents about the age they would be appropriate for.
All boxed games for computers and consoles are given a PEGI
(Pan-European Game Information) rating of 3, 7, 12, 16 or 18. These age ratings tell you who the game is suitable for based on the type of content you’ll see when playing. Games on app stores will also have age ratings.