21 April 2021

Getting to know what your child is doing online

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Find out the different things your child likes to spend time on online. The online world is full of lots of great resources and you should try to make sure your child is making the most of them all!

Understanding what your child likes to do online is a good first step in helping them manage how they spend time on their favourite device. There’s no set amount of time your child should or shouldn’t spend online and it’s important to do what’s right for your family. Remember not every online activity is the same and children can still experience risks even when online for a short time.

It’s best to start any conversation about keeping safe online with the positives.  So why not start by exploring what your child likes to do and which are their favourite apps and games.  Making sure your child is doing a range of different activities online will help them develop new skills and good online habits as they get older.

We know children like to use apps and games to watch, create, connect, play and learn so we’ve put together some questions to help you talk about each of these different types of apps. This will help give you an overview of how they like to spend their time online and get to know some of the apps, sites and games they use a little better.  

Family activity

Talk to your child about what they like to do online and why. Try to fit every app, site or game you discuss under at least one of the five categories (some may go under more than one). Aim to have at least one activity for each category. 

connect, create, learn, play, watch icons

As well as fun time, try to ensure your child is using the internet in other ways, such as for learning, exercise and developing new skills.


Getting to know what your child is doing online

Once you've decided what categories the apps, sites and games your child uses fit under, talk through the questions and information under each category below. .

Many of us use the internet to connect with friends and family. This might be through traditional messaging apps like WhatsApp or through content sharing apps like Snapchat or TikTok.

  • Which apps do you use to chat with your friends outside of school?
  • Have you tried any new chat apps or are your friends using any new chat apps? When are your friends mainly online chatting?

The internet is a great space for kids to create and develop new skills.  For example, Roblox has entire sections dedicated to teaching kids how to code.  It’s important to talk to your child about the content they’re creating online and who they’re sharing it with.

  • What apps do you use to create things online (videos, pictures etc)? Who do you share these with?
  • Can you show me what app you used to create that or something you’ve made before?

Recently kids have used online tools as a way of learning more than ever before and not just for school work.  There are lots of resources for learning new hobbies or crafts too.  The internet is full of amazing opportunities for us to learn but it’s not always easy to separate fact from fiction.  Read our article to help support your children with fake news, misinformation and disinformation.

  • What apps or sites have you used to learn new things?
  • How did it teach you – video’s, pictures, live chat etc?
  • Did you share what you learnt with anyone? Can you show me?

It’s important to not forget that being online is a great way for kids to have fun! There are endless activities online, like gaming, that can help kids relax and escape from everyday life.

  • What are your favourite games to play on?
  • How long do your favourite games last?
  • Can you speak to other people while playing?
  • Who do you like playing games with? What time of day do they like to play?

Watch will cover any activity that involves streaming content online, such as using Netflix to watch their favourite programme or spending time on TikTok watching videos on the ‘For You’ page. It might also cover more educational activities like watching documentaries or videos on sites like BBC Bitesize, or the Oak National Academy whose videos are free to stream if you’re on O2.    

  • What are your favourite things to watch online? And why?
  • What was the last video you watched online? What was it about?
  • How long do these videos usually last?

You could also ask your child which influencers and YouTubers they follow and why. Use this as an opportunity to explore their content together to see whether it’s appropriate.

Top tips

If your child mentions a specific app or game use this opportunity to ask them to give you a demo of it. This will give you a chance to ask them questions about how and why they use it.

Once you’ve had the demo use this as an opportunity to talk about privacy setting and safety tools.   You could use our Net Aware reviews to help you set up important safety settings.  

Once you’ve talked through what they like to do online use our Family Agreement to create some online rules together. Make sure to use the insight you’ve gathered from the activity above to discuss when they can go on certain apps.  

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