CHILDLINE ADVICE: The many things that you can do to keep a child safe online
Here at Childline, we regularly hear from children and young people who are experiencing problems, such as bullying, which have started or developed online.
As we move into 2022 and children get to know the new tablets, phones and games they got for Christmas, I thought it would be worth sharing a few online safety tips which could help families in the North-East this year.
Most importantly, talk to your children openly and regularly about their online activities.
For children, online life is real life, so just as you might ask about their day at school or college, ask what they’re doing online regularly – don’t wait until you’re worried.
Speak regularly about what they’re doing online and how to stay safe, and let them know they can come to you, a trusted adult or Childline if they’re worried or upset by anything they’ve encountered.
Sit down with your child to agree some rules around how they use their devices – how long they can spend on them, when they can talk to friends or play games.
By involving your child in this process, you’ll encourage them to think about how they spend time online and help them develop good online habits. There’s more information on the NSPCC website to help with this.
Adjust the privacy settings on their favourite apps, sites and games - including location settings - as this allows you to choose what your child shares and what others see.
Spend time finding out why they like certain apps or games, and make sure they know what they can do to keep themselves safe. Remind them that if someone starts asking them questions that make them feel unsure or uncomfortable, they should talk to you.
Also, look out for signs they might need more support, such as being withdrawn or more quiet than usual, getting angry when you try to go near their device, mood swings, issues with sleeping, or changes to their behaviour.
You can also encourage your child to look at the Childline website – www.childline.org.uk – and explore its range of advice, articles, tips and exercises together.