Making children with additonal needs safe on social | Internet Matters

Setting up tech safely

Advice for Parents & Carers

Learn what settings you can use on devices to manage your child’s online experience.

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Devices children use to connect online

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Whilst the most popular device for connecting online remains the smartphone, it’s important not to overlook the other devices your child might use to go online, particularly tablets, gaming consoles and laptops/PC’s. All these devices can be set up in a way that will support your child’s online experience.

Apple iOS Smartphones & Tablets

Smartphones and tablets typically fall into one of two kinds, either Apple, which uses its own iOS operating system or everybody else, like Samsung, LG, Google, etc, which use the Android operating system.

Screen Time

The screen time function on iOS allows you to set time limits and content and privacy settings by setting up a screen time passcode. It helps you to schedule time away from the screen, limits for types of apps that can be purchased or used, social networking is one group, and to set content & privacy restrictions. Here you can set up several useful features including:

  • Age ratings for films, apps, music, TV and books
  • Filters for website content
  • Privacy settings for the Games Centre

There is a guide for how to use the Screen time feature here:

Go to Internetmatters.org to see guide

How to start using Screen Time for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch — Apple Support
How Family Sharing works — Apple Support

Family Sharing

If you all your family devices are from Apple you could take advantage of setting up Family Sharing. As well as allowing you to share cloud storage and purchases, it lets you monitor your children’s screen time use, what websites they visit, and apps they use. It also lets you set time limits for specific apps and has a handy ‘Ask to buy’ feature. It also allows you to track device locations. You can find out more here:

Go to Internetmatters.org to see guide

Sharing devices

iOS also has guided access which is a stand-alone way of controlling access to a single app for a set time, useful if you are sharing devices. You can find out more here

Go to Apple support

Android Smartphones & Tablets

Smartphones & tablets typically fall into one of two kinds, either Apple, which uses its own iOS operating system or everybody else, like Samsung, LG, Google, etc, which use the Android operating system.

Google Family Link

Google Family Link lets you supervise, and control access remotely and add filter and content restrictions to your child’s Android device. Importantly you can use a parent you can use either an Android or iOS handset. It will take some time to set up and involves each user having a Gmail account, and you providing your credit card details for verification, however once set up it will allow you to track their location, set controls and filters for the websites and apps used, and also set usage times and limits for specific apps on your child’s device. You can find a setup guide here:

Go to Internet Matters site to see the guide

Google Digital Wellbeing

Digital Wellbeing from Google can be downloaded from the app store and then appears in your settings, rather than as an app. It gives you access to a range of screen time data that lets you review the apps you use and the time spent on them. It also importantly includes the parental controls capability from Family Link. At the moment it is only available on Google phones and a handful of other Android phones, however, in October 2019, they made it a requirement for all Android phones to either have this app built-in or offer a similar service.

Go to Google Digital Wellbeing 

Google Play Store icon

Google Play Store

You can control the apps your child can download from the app store by using the Settings in the actual PlayStore. You can find a helpful guide here:

Go to Internet Matters to see the guide 

Games Consoles

As children grow older, gameplay whether it is on mobile or console, increasingly involves communicating with others, so it’s important that you make sure you also set up gaming consoles with this in mind. Each of the major platforms, PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo all offer a raft of parental controls and privacy settings to tailor your child’s experience. You can find out more about how to do this here:

Go to Internetmatters.org to see the guide

PlayStation Network and Xbox Live are subscription services that allow communication between players, so if your child is using these make sure you also think about how these are set up. And alongside these services, are platforms like Steam and Twitch where young games can interact. It’s important to think about these as social networks, particularly as the language and conduct on these platforms can sometimes be more aggressive and inappropriate. Again, you can find more information by clicking on the button above.

Laptop and PC's

Laptops and PC’s are much like smartphone and tend to fall into two camps, Apple and Windows. The Apple MacOS Operating system offers very similar features to Family Sharing on the smartphone iOS.

Windows also offers built in parental controls and lets you set up a child account where you can also manage screen time, apply filters and restrictions and control spending at the Microsoft store. Again you can find more information here for Windows 10:

Go to Internetmatters.org to see the guide

Controls on your home broadband and mobile networks

Home broadband

The most common home broadband networks all offer parental controls and filtering free of charge. This allows you to control the sites your child can access. Whilst they are helpful for preventing your child from stumbling across inappropriate content online, they only work on websites (not apps), don’t control at an individual level, and so for social media, they cannot block app access. You can find about more about parental controls here

Go to Internetmatters.org to see the guide

Sky do offer a service called Sky Broadband Buddy at an extra cost that allows you to set up a profile for your child and control access and time spent on both individual apps and types of website. You can find information about it here

Go to Internetmatters.org

Mobile networks

The big mobile networks all offer protection for accidentally stumbling across inappropriate contact. But like the broadband networks, they operate on a website level (not on apps) and so for social media they cannot block app access. For more information on mobile networks:

Go to Internetmatters.org to see the guide

SafeSearch

Make use of both Google Safe Search and YouTube Restricted Mode. Safe Search on Google’s search engine stops anything that is considered 18+ appearing in the search results, and YouTube Restricted Mode filters out inappropriate adult style content from being played on YouTube, whilst this is less likely to be pornography (as this is against community standards) and more around adult themes and bad language. More information about these is available here:

Go to Internetmatters.org to see the guide

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