A Guide to Using the Internet with your Children

Learn and Get Involved

Use the Internet with your child. Learn who their friends are, and explore what information they are sharing on their social networking services, social messaging apps, game consoles and websites. If you are unsure about the Internet, ask your children to explain what they know. Enrol for a classes to improve your Internet skills. Check out the BBC’s Webwise  pages or Digital Unite’s Guides.

Search effectively
Allow your young children Internet access only when you are present. Consider the use of filtering software. See https://www.getsafeonline.org website for more information. However, no filter is foolproof, and your involvement is key. With younger children, use child-friendly search directories like http://www.kidsclick.org.

Explore the best apps for children
Common Sense Media have an excellent review site – which also includes reviews of apps for children: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/reviews.

Connect to an online community of parents and professionals
The Internet has many fantastic online communities and newsletters that provide advice and guidance on parenting and technology. See Vodafone’s Digital Parenting Online Magazine (including past issues) which also has information on age appropriate check lists, or visit online community website for parents, Quibly: http://www.quib.ly or Anne Collier’s http://www.netfamilynews.org.

Evaluate content online
Teach your child how to evaluate information found online. Because a website looks official, it does not automatically mean that its content are true, as people do sometimes write misleading content, or content which claims to be true.

Communicate about online chat, gaming, social apps and websites 
Discuss with your children the different services they use online, how to use these safely and effectively. Explore with them the benefits and challenges presented by the different services they use, and how they can maintain good net-etiquette and safety when encountering challenging situations and content. Without scaring them, make them aware of web sites with inaccurate or inappropriate content, as well as the fact that people sometimes lie online. Let them know that they can talk to you about anything that makes them upset or uncomfortable, or if they have accidentally accessed something inappropriate. Remind them never to meet anyone they have met online without your permission, and explain the reasons for this.
See this parent and carer’s guide to age ratings of apps and games

Teach your child good net-etiquette, and ensure that they understand that the Internet is a real and public space, with real laws and consequences.

What personal information to share
Explore with them what information is appropriate to share on the Internet, and ensure that they do not disclose private information (of themselves or their friends) such as home addresses and telephone numbers, schools they attend etc. This is particularly important for younger children.

Responsible sharing
Encourage them to be responsible when posting information/comments (text, video and photos) about themselves or their friends on their Social Networking sites, or when instant messaging, or having online chat. Make sure that they know that information shared online can sometimes be recorded digitally and misused.

Good practice: privacy, passwords, logging off
Ensure that your child adopts safe practices like setting their profiles to private; limiting their online friends to those they know well in real-life; keeping their password secret; and logging off after using Messaging and Social Networking Services.

Security and scams
Ensure that the computers in the home have up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware software. See www.getsafeonline.org  for more information. Encourage your children never to click on offers for freebies, or to open emails, files or web pages from people they do not know, as viruses can be spread unknowingly. They should also know check with you before filling in online forms.

Be present and set boundaries

Keep the computer in a “family” room, where it is easier to keep an eye on Internet use. Also ensure that your children do not become over-users of tablets and game-consoles by setting rules about time spent online. Encouraging their other interests will also help. Children also look to you as a role-model, so ensure that you are giving your child the time and attention they need, and not neglecting them, through your own over-dependence on smartphone/ tablet use.

Filtering Solutions and Other Tools

If necessary, look into Family Friendly ISP packages that are available from TalkTalk, BT, Sky and VirginMedia. More information on this, as well as other tools can be found on the Internet Matters website: http://www.internetmatters.org/controls/networks-wifi