04 November 2021

Six online safety messages from Net Aware’s six years

6 tips for 6 years article

Together, O2 and the NSPCC have delivered expert advice, support and resources that are helping to keep kids safe online. Over the past six years, we have worked together to develop tools, resources, and campaigns to help you have regular conversations with your children and we are proud of the impact we delivered.

The NSPCC and O2 have had a fantastic six-year partnership which will end on the 30th November 2021. Whilst the NSPCC and O2 will no longer be in official partnership together, the NSPCC gratefully acknowledges the support of O2 in encouraging and enabling parents to help keep their kids safe online during the last six years.

What does this mean for Net Aware?  

As part of the partnership ending, the Net Aware site will be closing.  This won’t happen straight away so you will still be able to access all the tips, advice, and reviews for a little while.

To continue to support parents with keeping their children safe online, once Net Aware has closed, you will be able to access online safety advice from the NSPCC website, but here are our top six tips from Net Aware to help keep children safe online.

  1. Talk about online safety

Talking to your children, openly and regularly, is the best way to help them stay safe online. For children, online life is real life. In the same way that you’d ask about their day, reach out to your child to find out what they’re doing online regularly – not just when you’re worried.

Talk to your child regularly about what they’re doing online and how to stay safe. Let them know they can come to you, another trusted adult or Childline if they’re feeling worried or upset by anything they’ve seen.

  1. Agree some rules about how they spend their time online

Sit down with your child and agree some rules around how long they can spend on certain devices and when they can do certain activities such as talk to friends or play games. For example, you might agree with them they can video call with friends but only if you’re in the room. Or you might let them play games in the main family room at the weekends with their school friends.

Involving your child is in this process will encourage them to think about how they spend time online and help them develop good online habits in the future.

Different rules will work for different families but often work best when agreed together as a family. That way your child can share things like how long each game lasts which is helpful to know when agreeing time limits. It can help to write down any new rules together as a family so you can come back to them later.

  1. Look at the tools available to help

Parental controls can restrict what your children see and the type of content they come across. These are particularly popular with parents of younger children. Adjust the privacy settings on apps, sites and games including location settings. This allows you to choose what your child shares and what others see, like their location.

Remember - When a child uses the internet at a friend’s or relative’s house, parental controls and privacy settings may be different. This is why regular conversations with your child about online safety are so important, so they understand why you have agreed rules and boundaries to keep them safe online.

Family on tablet

  1. Explore the online activities your child likes

Explore your child’s online activities together. Understand why they like using certain apps or games and make sure they know what they can do to keep themselves safe.  Instead of using traditional board games, find out how to host a family games night online.

Lots of platforms have chat functions that let you to talk to people you don’t know. Make sure to check the communication features on the apps and games your child uses and explore the safety features available.

Make sure you check in with your child regularly about who they’re talking to on their favourite apps and games. Remind them that if someone starts asking them questions that make them feel unsure or uncomfortable, they should talk to you.

  1. Look out for signs they might need more support

Parents and carers should look out for signs their child might have had a negative experience online. Some of them might include:

  • Being withdrawn or more quiet than usual
  • The child getting angry when you try to go near their device
  • Mood swings
  • issues with sleeping and their mental health
  • A new behaviour from your child which doesn’t have an obvious explanation.

Remember, as a parent you know your child best so trust your gut feeling that something might be wrong.

  1. Know where to get further support

If your child sees something online that upsets or worries them it’s important that you both know where you can get further support.

If you’re worried about your child or need advice you might want to call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.

Encourage your child to look at the Childline website, which has a range of great advice articles.

Childline’s Calm zone is also packed with tools and activities to help your child de-stress and discover news techniques that can support them when they’re feeling down. Young people can also talk about their worries with others on the Childline message boards.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP) helps keep children safe from online grooming. If you suspect it is an adult who is in contact with your child, and they are behaving inappropriately then you should report this to the CEOP.

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