Pre-school (0-5)

Online safety advice

More and more pre-schoolers are getting their own tablets or borrowing their parents’ devices to play games, use apps, and watch their favourite TV shows. See advice on simple things you can do to make sure they’re using the internet safely.

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Internet safety checklist for pre-school children

Use our list of practical tips to help children under-5s have a safer online experience and get the best out of the digital world as they grow. You’ll also find a range of helpful tools and expert tips for further support.

Checklist: Supporting 0-5-year-olds online

Explore together

Talk to your child about what the internet is and explore it together so you can show them all the great fun and educational things they can do. Reassure them that if they see anything upsetting, they should come and talk to you.

Be involved

Encourage them to use devices in the same room as you so you can keep and an eye on how they’re using the internet. Stay inquisitive about what they are doing and encourage them to share their enjoyment with you.

Put yourself in control

Activate parental controls on your home broadband. Most Internet-enabled devices also offer parental controls. For example, Microsoft Windows, Apple iOS, and Google’s Android all offer ways to control the apps and sites your child can visit.

Search safely

If you let your child search independently, make sure safe search settings are activated on Google and other search engines or set the default to one designed especially for children such as Swiggle.

Use passwords

Keep your devices out of reach and set passwords on all your internet-enabled devices and don’t share them. Then you’ll know when and where your child is accessing the internet. Also, use passwords to make sure they’re not making additional purchases when they’re playing games or using apps. Visit our how-to guides to find out how.

Use age-appropriate sites and apps

Choose safe, fun, and educational sites and apps for your child. Use age ratings in the app stores to check suitability. Make use of platforms and services designed with children in mind like YouTube Kids, Sky Kids, BBC iPlayerKids, and Nick Jr. See our Top kids TV apps for safer viewing for more advice.

Set boundaries

It’s never too early to start setting boundaries. Set some rules about how they use connected technology, including which apps and sites they can use and how long they can spend on them. We’ve created a family agreement template that you can use to get started.

Why it matters: Facts & Stats

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Screen time

On average 3 to 4-year-olds spend over 6 hours online a week

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Device use

of 3-4-year-old have their own device

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Rise in concern

Fewer parents of 3 to 4 year-olds  agree that ‘the benefits of the internet outweigh the risks’

Research document

See our parenting digital natives report to get more insights into parents’ concerns about their children’s digital lives.

Featured recommended resources

What issues might affect pre-schoolers?

Here are some of our favourite resources to help you learn more about digital wellbeing and online safety for the youngest of children. We’ve also highlighted some fun and educational apps to get them learning online. (Click the bar to expand to see the resources.)

Guides and resources for parents

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eSafety Early Years advice guide

Created by the Australian eSafety Commissioner this is a guide to support children under 5 online. It features simple advice on how to keep children safe, encourage them to be kind, and help them make good decisions online.

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Google safety tools for families

Set ground rules with Google Family Link and use a range of safety tools to help the whole family build good online safety habits.

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O2 and NSPCC online safety helpline

From setting up parental controls to reporting online bullying, you can call the free helpline on 0808 800 5002, or visit an O2 Guru in store.

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O2  & NSPCC NetAware

O2 and NSPCC’s Net Aware is a guide for parents of 50 of the most popular social networks, apps, and games with children. You can download it as an app or visit the site to stay informed.

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Guide to tech: Using Location tracking on kids devices

Here’s what you need to consider before deciding to share your child’s location on their device and how to best use apps that offer location tracking.

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NSPCC Helpline

If you’re worried about something a child has experienced online you can contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.

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Guide to Monitoring apps

We’ve reviewed some of the most popular apps that allow you to manage your child’s online experience.

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American Academy of Pediatricians 

Use the AAP’s ‏tool to create a family media plan to help you to think about media & create goals & rules that are in line with your family’s values.

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Internet Matters Wellbeing Apps guide

We’ve scoured the best of the net to uncover popular wellbeing apps available to download.

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Good App Guide

Use the Good App Guide to get independent reviews of children’s apps, parenting and child development advice. It is run by Fundamentally Children an organisation dedicated to helping children develop skills through play

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Young children and screen time 

This is a simple guide on what to think about when managing young children’s screen time. It is created by Childnet and provides advice on key things to consider, how to set rules, choosing age-appropriate apps, and how to teach children to be responsible online.

Online safety activity to do with your child

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Smartie the Penguin

Join in with Daddy Penguin’s song and follow the adventures of Smartie and Daddy Penguin as Smartie learns how to be safe on the internet.

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Online safety story books 

Take a look at a curated list of online safety storybooks from the Kent Online Safety Blog that you can share with your child to help them understand a variety of online challenges to keep them safe.

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Jessie & friends: for 4-7-year-olds

Jessie & Friends is a series of three animations that follow the adventures of Jessie, Tia and Mo as they begin to navigate the online world, watching videos, sharing pictures and playing games.

Apps to encourage learning, creativity, and development

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YouTube Kids

Made for young kids, this child-friendly version filters out inappropriate content and hides comments on videos giving parents peace of mind and a child a safe online viewing experience. Download as an Android or iOS app.

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Sky Kids App

The Sky Kids app offers a fun and safer way for pre-schoolers to nine-year-olds to enjoy a wide range of popular kids TV. Parents have been involved in the development of the Sky Kids app. The result is an app that kids will love, supported by safety features that parents need.

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Lingokids

Lingokids offers educational games, picture dictionary, language learning videos, songs for children to teach English to children from 2 – 8 years of age, designed with Oxford University Press content

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Duck Duck Moose Apps

Duck Duck Moose Apps are Free educational apps that allow young children to explore and learn in a safe and fun environment. The range of apps covers; reading, emotions, maths, creative expression and play.

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Fisher Price Apps

Designed for the way kids play today and can be used at home or on the go. All based on learning concepts and all free to download on iOS from Apple and Android via Google Play or Amazon.

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BBC iPlayer Kids

BBC iPlayer Kids app gives children easier access to their favourite programmes, while parents can be confident they’re watching shows appropriate for their age and free from adverts. The apps are free to download on iOS from Apple and Android via Google Play or Amazon.

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CBeebies Storytime App

This app aims to make reading fun, with playful and imaginative stories designed to help support early years reading. All apps are free to download on Apple and Android, or Kindle Fire.

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Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame

This is a digital wellbeing app using Sesame Street’s monster character to share with your child to help teach skills such as problem-solving, self-control, planning, and task persistence.

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Samsung Kids Mode app

The Kids Mode App helps to keep your children safe whilst being entertained using a Samsung smartphone or tablet. The app has a range of fun features and over 2,500 unique education and recreational apps all within a safe space.

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