17 July 2020
Supporting your child's wellbeing online
Follow these tips to help support your child's wellbeing online.
Being online is a great way for kids to play, create, learn and connect. From TikTok routines with the family to Zoom quizzes with friends, technology has helped us maintain a sense of normality, connection and fun over the last few months.
But for a lot of kids, it can sometimes feel like there’s an endless cycle of worrying news or pressure to keep up with friends and followers on social media and games. And because we’re spending so much more time online, it can be hard to avoid.
If your child is feeling a little overwhelmed, or you just want some suggestions to help you support your child’s wellbeing online, follow our tips.
1. Talk to your child about how they’re feeling
It’s important to check in regularly with your child about the apps and social sites they’re using and the games they’re playing. You can chat about what they like about them and who they’re talking to.
There’s lots of news being shared online at the moment and your child might have questions about something they’ve seen on social media. Newsround has some great videos you can watch with your child about things happening in the news they might want to discuss.
Let them know they can always come to you, another trusted adult or a Childline counsellor.
2. Familiarise yourself with your child’s favourite app or game
Check out our Net Aware reviews to learn more about the apps and games your child is using and how you can help keep them safe online.
Our reviews will give you up to date information on safety features, as well as top tips around how you can support them.
3. Create a family agreement
Creating a family agreement is a great way for you to open communication with your child and agree some rules about what’s ok to do online.
You might want them to agree to check with you before they download a new app, or to not accept friend requests from people they don’t know. Different agreements work for different families so do what works best for yours. Download our family agreement template to get you started.
4. Turn off notifications
Smartphones and tablets mean that we’re available all the time and it can be hard to switch off. It’s important to talk to kids about the pressure of ‘always being online’.
If being online isn’t making them feel good, turning off some or all notifications can be a great way to have some time out. You can turn off notifications on most apps by exploring the settings on your child’s phone or tablet.
Some apps, like Instagram, have features that let you silence notifications for a set period of time. When the time is up, notifications will return to their normal settings without you having to reset them.
You can also switch on do not disturb mode on your child’s device to mute calls and notifications at certain times like during family meal times or while they’re learning from home. You can change notifications in the settings of each device. Here are links to advice for some of the more popular brands:
5. Explore wellbeing settings and apps
A lot of apps now have resources to support user’s wellbeing. Popular apps like TikTok, Roblox and Snapchat all have wellbeing guides and settings which are useful for you to explore with your child.
Make sure to explore these regularly with your child to see what’s new and make sure they’re still right for your family.
There are also some apps designed to support young people’s online safety and wellbeing. The BBC Own It app and keyboard gives children tips and advice, in real time, as they chat to their friends online. The app also has a diary feature and mood tracker that helps children keep track of how they’re feeling.
6. Be aware of social pressures and explore resources that could help them
While connecting with friends over apps and games isn’t a new thing for kids, not being able to see friends every day at school might bring about new worries and stresses.
There might be pressure for kids to talk more or share more things online, or they might feel more isolated without face-to-face contact. And, just like offline, communicating online can sometimes lead to misunderstandings and fall outs with friends.
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.