11 December 2019
Online safety for the whole family
Our tips for keeping the whole family safe online.
Every child is different, so there’s no hard and fast rule about when they should be using the Internet and how much guidance they’ll need to stay safe online.
The most important thing you can do is talk to your child regularly about what they do online and how they can stay safe. Here are some tips for keeping younger and older children safe online.
Keeping younger children safe online
It’s important to start having conversations about online safety at a young age because a lot of children now have access to the internet, even in their earliest years. In the same way you’d teach your child the rules of crossing the road, help them build an understanding of how to stay safe online.
Ask your child what they like doing online, what they find fun and why. You can also ask them if they see anything worrying or upsetting online, and let them know they can always talk to you about it.
If you have more than one child, you might find that the younger ones are influenced by what their older siblings are doing online. This is normal, but if an older sibling is playing a game with more mature themes or has an account on a social network, it could mean younger child is more likely to come across it or want to use it. Think about where, when and how younger children might see inappropriate things online.
It’s a great idea to have a chat with your older children about how they can help keep their younger siblings from seeing something they shouldn’t. Come to an agreement on what’s ok when they’re playing alone and what’s ok when there are younger kids in the mix.
With a child or young person of any age, it’s useful to explore social networks, apps and games yourself before your child uses them. But with younger children, sites, apps or games that appear to be simple and safe might pose risks, so it’s important you take the time to use them yourself.
You might want to share information about your child online, like images or videos, but it’s important to think about the long-term effects this might have. Ask your child if they’re happy for their photos to be shared online. If they are, agree who you’ll share them with and how.
We recommend not sharing personal information about your child online, like names and addresses. But this can also include things you might not think of, like school uniform.
Starting the conversation
The most important thing you can do is talk to your children about what they do online and how they can stay safe. But it can be difficult to know where to start. Follow our three tips for some inspiration.
Keeping older children safe online
Having regular conversations about online safety is important for children and young people of any age. The ways children use the internet changes constantly, so it can sometimes feel difficult to know how to keep up.
Open, regular conversations about online safety will give you the opportunity to talk about the benefits and risks of being online. Our tips and advice can help you start these conversations.
When older children explore things online, younger children might be more likely to come across it or want to use it themselves. This content could start to be seen as ‘the norm’ but might not be appropriate for younger children.
Think about social networks like Snapchat and Instagram which have official age ratings of 13+. If a younger child sees their sibling using it, they might want to create an account as well. But social networks like these might not be appropriate.
Talk to your older children about the responsibility they have to help keep their younger siblings safe online.
Older children are more like to have their own devices, like a mobile phone. When you set up a new phone together, make sure you check you’re happy with all the safety settings and privacy features.
Remember to check in regularly and explore these features together. Your child might download a new app or update their phone, so having regular check-ins can be useful.
Follow our TEAM tips to help keep your child safe online:
Talk to your child regularly about what they’re doing online and how to stay safe. Let them know they can come to you or another trusted adult if they’re feeling worried or upset by anything they have seen. You can use our conversation starters to support you when starting these conversations.
Explore your child’s online activities together. Understand why they like playing certain games and make sure they know what they can do to keep themselves safe.
Agree your own rules as a family when using sites, apps and games. You can use our family agreement template to help you get started.
Manage your technology and use the settings available to keep your child safe. If you need support doing this, you can visit an O2 Guru in any O2 store or call the O2 NSPCC Advice Line on 0808 800 5002.