There are many sources of information for parents on what, on the internet, is suitable for your children. It is challenging in such a fast=paced environment to keep up with the latest developments. Two of the better sites that are there to help us are;
Common Sense allows you to see reviews of Apps, games, books and films which allows you to make a more informed choice on what is suitable for your child – www.commonsensemedia.org
Vodaphone Digital Parenting Checklists
Vodaphone produce some useful checklists for parents of different aged children to support them with addressing online safety issues.
Under 5 checklist
- START setting some boundaries now – it’s never too early to do things like set limits for the amount of time they can spend on the computer
- KEEP devices like your mobile out of reach and make sure you have passwords/PINs set up on them for the times you might lend them to your child… or for when they simply get hold of them themselves!
- CHECK the age ratings and descriptions on apps, games, online TV and films before downloading them and allowing your child to play with or watch them
- EXPLAIN your technology rules to grandparents, babysitters and parents of your child’s friends so that they stick to them when they’re looking after your child
- REMEMBER that public Wi-Fi (e.g. in cafés) might not have Parental Controls on it – so, if you hand over your iPad to your child while you’re having a coffee, they might be able to access more than you bargained for
- SET the homepage on your family computer or tablet to an appropriate website like Cbeebies
Age 6-9 Checklist
- CREATE a user account for your child on the family computer with appropriate settings and make the most of Parental Controls and tools like Google SafeSearch
- AGREE a list of websites they’re allowed to visit and the kind of personal information they shouldn’t reveal about themselves online (like the name of their school or their home address)
- DECIDE time limits for things like using the internet and playing on games consoles
- BEAR in mind what older siblings might be showing them on the internet, mobiles, games consoles and other devices and agree some rules as a whole family
- TALK to other parents about their views on things like what age to buy kids a mobile and don’t be pressured by your child into letting them use certain technologies if you don’t think they’re old enough or mature enough… no matter how much they pester you
- FAMILIARISE yourself with age ratings and descriptions on games, and apps etc, so that you can be sure your child is only accessing age-appropriate content
Age 9 – 12 checklist
- MAKEsure you’ve set some tech boundaries before they get their first mobile or games console – once they have it in their hands, it can be more difficult to change the way they use it
- REMINDyour child to keep phones and other devices well hidden when they’re out and about to minimise the risk of theft
- TALKto them about what they post and share online – written comments, photos and videos all form part of their ‘digital footprint’ and could be seen by anyone and available on the Web forever
- DISCUSSthe kind of things they see online – this is the age when they might be looking for information about their changing bodies and exploring relationships, for example
- HOLDthe line on letting your son or daughter sign up for services like Facebook and YouTube that have a minimum age limit of 13 – talk to other parents and their school to make sure everyone is on the same page
- REMINDthem that they shouldn’t do anything online that they wouldn’t do face-to-face
Further tips and information can be found on the Vodafone website https://www.vodafone.com/content/parents/get-started.html
Childnet Tips on Online Gaming
Childnet have some top tips for online gaming:
- Engage with the gaming environment and begin to understand what makes it is so attractive to young people as well as the types of activities that they enjoy!
- Talk with your children about the types of game(s) they are playing. Ask them to show you or have a go yourself.
- Some games may offer children the chance to chat with other players by voice and text. Ask them who they are playing with and find out if they are talking to other players. If chat is available, look at the type of language that is used by other players.
- Look out for age ratings and familiarise yourself with the PEGI icons on games. The PEGI classification gives you a clear indication whether a game is suitable for your child.
The childnet parent site includes a section on hot topics and information on parental controls and gaming. The hot topics section covers the issues that parents may be concerned about. http://www.childnet.com/parents-and-carers
Childnet also have a skills school with online videos talking through the safety features of sites which parents can work through with their child.
The Childnet International – Know IT All for Parents site includes video guides for parents in a number of languages.
Other useful links:
PEGI (Pan European Game Information) Web Site
The PEGI website contains information about games ratings and can be found at the following link.
Parents can search for a game to find out about online associated online safety issues as well as the age rating for the game.
Two examples of the information the site provides about games are shown below.
Parent Info site
The government has launched a new online tool for schools across the country to give parents the best possible advice and tips on preparing their children for adult life. The site has been created by CEOP and parent zone and can be found at the link below.
CEOP’s Thinkuknow website
This site gives lots of information for parents as well as games and quizzes for children to ensure they understand how to stay safe online.
NSPCC Online Safety
The NSPCC also provide a range of information and tips for parents and children about staying safe online and what to do if things go wrong online.