With a multitude of technological devices now available – from tablets to laptops to mobile phones – children are living in a digital age where they can play games, watch TV and partake in educational activities online.
But the recent emergence of the Momo challenge saw children being exposed to videos inappropriate for their age.
Here are a number of ways in which parents can help children to stay safe whilst online.
Top tips for parents and guardians
Sara Rowboth and Matt Haworth, the co-founder of Reason Digital, have developed guidelines for parents and guardians to safeguard children in the digital age.
- Get to know your own privacy settings on social media. Most social platforms have guides, videos and walkthroughs. By doing this you can then talk confidently about online privacy and educate your child to share safely
- Help your child with the skills to understand and manage risk online. You may have already talked to your child about the dangers of interacting with strangers when outside and what they should do if approached – apply this to the online community too.
- Be mindful when posting pictures of your child online. Check your privacy settings so you know how many people may be able to see them.
- Consider limiting screen time. If you do want to implement limitations, work with your child to find out how long they think is enough and go from there. This way your child will feel more empowered and in control of their own time and is then less likely to hide screen time from you.
- Be open to awkward or difficult conversations about what your child is doing online. Try to keep reactions calm and encouraging – negative or extreme reactions can lead to a child closing down about something they might be worried about. They could also become more secretive in the future when they come across a problem online
- Trust your instincts as a parent – you know your child.
“Social media is such a broad topic, there are so many positives to life in the online community, but like real life, you need to be as streetwis,” said Haworth.
“In the last 10 to 15 years parents have had to apply a new way of thinking, as eight or nine year olds now have mobile phones.
“Sit down with your child and inspire them to trust their instincts and discuss what they’re posting, reading and how they should respond to any unwanted attention.”