Being a responsible parent in a digital world.

The evolution of the digital world has created a unique set of challenges for parents to navigate. It’s a good idea to get involved with the same technologies that your child is engaging with. Stream music, download popular apps, set up a Facebook account or play games online, in order to build a connection and an understanding of your child’s interests but above all you’ll gain an appreciation for the digital world that your kids will be interacting with which will make conversations easier.

To help keep your children safe, we’ve created this guide to highlight some of the challenges your children may face online.

If you’d like more information, check out iParent, where you can find out more about keeping your child safe online. Also our cyber safety support page has more great advice.

Accessing age-appropriate material

Making sure your child only has access to age-appropriate material online can be a difficult task – you can’t watch over their shoulder all the time.

It’s a good idea to chat with your children and encourage them to come to you if they see imagery or content that worries or upsets them.

You might consider using online parental controls, monitoring apps and family friendly filters. There are apps that track the websites that your child visits and they can also block dedicated sites that you consider inappropriate. The Communications Alliance has great advice for family friendly filters and you can also sign up to Norton™ to protect your computer.

If you have children of different ages, it’s best to remind older children that certain websites and apps may not be suitable for their younger siblings.

Unwanted contact from strangers

Social media apps can provide the ability for your children to network and to keep in touch with their peers. But they also attract unwanted contact from strangers.

If your child is contacted by a stranger, encourage them to come to you immediately. They shouldn’t respond to the stranger no matter how tempting it might appear.

Maintaining privacy

Sharing of private information online can be necessary but it’s important that your children are aware of when to share and when not to share private information.

It’s a good idea to chat with your children to explain the importance of keeping personal information off the internet. Set boundaries and rules, especially for younger children as their online reputation can follow them through life.

Cyberbullying

No longer is bullying confined to the playground. With the advent of the internet, a child could be bullied from whenever they have access to the internet. Cyberbullies may act anonymously and can inflict significant emotional trauma on a child in their bedroom – a place that should be the safest of all.

It’s important to talk to your children about cyberbullying and to make them aware of how to identify cyberbullying when it occurs. Tell your child that they should never respond to a cyberbully. Encourage your child to come to you immediately if they feel that they’ve been targeted.

In-app charges

Online games can be a highly enjoyable pursuit. However some apps generate revenue through what’s known as in-app purchases – sometimes you may not even know that a particular action in a game involves money.

It’s best to ensure that your debit/credit card details aren’t saved on the device so that you aren’t charged if your child inadvertently accesses a game.

Computer viruses

Computer viruses and malware can be spread through what it seems like an innocent email or attachment.

Teach your children to be wary of emails that are unfamiliar or that they’re not expecting. Some emails use popular logos and brand names – be cautious of opening and downloading anything that doesn’t seem completely legitimate.

Use virus protection software such as Norton™ to protect your computer.