Top tips for Offaly parents to keep their kids safe online
To mark this year’s Safer Internet Day, independent price comparison and switching service, Switcher.ie, has pulled together a selection of useful tips to help parents keep their children safe while online.
The annual event takes place today, February 6, and is designed to make people more aware of internet safety and particularly of the potential dangers lurking online for children. This year’s theme is “Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you."
Switcher.ie’s top tips to help your children stay safe online:
Talk to your child about internet safety
The first - and most important - thing to do is to speak to your child or children about how they spend their time online and how they use the internet to communicate with their friends. You should also set out your expectations for their behaviour online. If you don’t know where to start, check out Webwise, which has loads of tips on getting the conversation started. Google also has an online game called ‘Interland’, which teaches players all about internet safety, so that could be fun to go through together.
Don’t talk to strangers
This old adage still rings true - advise your child to only contact and reply to people they know offline.
Make sure you have agreed safety checks in place
Make an agreement with your child that they’ll check with you before signing up for any online services or games so you can go through the form together. Depending on their age, you may also want them to check with you before uploading photographs - even if the pictures are not of their faces, sometimes landmarks, schools etc. can give away details about their location.
Activate parental controls
Most broadband providers allow customers to install parental controls at a household level. These are generally free, and will restrict access to websites that contain age inappropriate content - some even let you create a ‘whitelist’ of sites that can be accessed. How to set up the parental controls will depend on your broadband provider, so the best bet is to check out their website or give them a call to see how to activate them in your home.
Install apps to control smartphone usage
There are a variety of smartphone apps available that you can use to restrict the types of content that the device’s user can access - some of the most popular ones include Net Nanny, and Norton Family Parental Control. For certain sites, like YouTube and Instagram, there are quite nuanced settings available that you can set for individual accounts, so be sure to check the settings when your child is setting up the account.
Manage a healthy amount of time online
Make sure that you’re happy with the amount of time your child is spending online - chatting with them about this and ensuring some time each day away from devices might be sufficient for you. However, if you need more help, some parental controls allow you to limit the amount of time that a device has internet access per day, which could be useful.
Eoin Clarke, Managing Director of price comparison and switching service Switcher.ie, said: “With the advent of the smartphone era, it’s easier than ever to create and post content online, and there’s no doubt we’re all much more connected than ever before, so this year’s theme really strikes a chord. And, while there are undoubtedly great benefits to this connected world, it’s really important that our children are not exposed to any danger online."
“On top of the content posted by others that they may be exposed to, it’s also important that children are aware of safety issues that might arise when they post pictures or content themselves - such as anything that can identify their location. And remember that there are other issues - such as the impact on children’s health and social skills - which are also worth bearing in mind when deciding your approach to your child’s time online," he added.
“The good news is that there are loads of easy safeguards you can put in place, and plenty of tools and tips out there to help you take steps towards ensuring your child’s safety online.”
For more information, visit www.switcher.ie.
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