Protect your child
Cyberbullying is a growing concern but there are practical tips and tools you can use to teach your child how to make smarter and safer choices as they navigate their online world.
What’s on the page
The best way to keep your child safe online is to take an active interest right from the start. They need your love and protection online as much as they do in the real world. What your child is exposed to will depend on how they’re using the internet – social network users are more likely to experience cyberbullying, see sexual or violent images, or have contact with strangers.
The earlier you can talk to your child about making positive choices online, the better. Here are some conversation starters:
Who do they want to be online?
The choices we make online say something about who we. Talk to your child about how the things they do online paint a picture of themselves, so they shouldn’t post things without thinking about it.
How much should they share about themselves?
Talk to your child about the risks of sharing, identifying where they live or go to school, and what people online might do with that information. Talk about what the risks might be of sharing personal thoughts and feelings.
How much time should they spend online?
Talk about the possible impact of spending too much time online and agree sensible ‘bed-times’ and breaks during the day. Create opportunities as a family to get ‘off-line’ and have fun together.
Know what your child does online
Talk to your child about what they do online and what they want to do online. Ask them about the kind of sites they go on and who they talk to and be clear what you don’t want them to do online.
What can they do if they see something horrible or something bad happens?
No matter how many precautions you take there will be times where your child feels hurt, scared or confused by something they’ve seen or experienced. Calmly talk through what they’ve seen, how to understand it, and what you can do together to make things better.
What if they make a mistake or do something they later regret?
The important thing is that your child talks to someone if they’ve messed up. Try not to get angry or overreact. Work out together how to remove content and make amends for any harm caused. They find it hard to talk to you, so let them know they can always contact a confidential helpline if they need advice.
How can they know what and who to trust online?
There is a lot online that is made up or exaggerated, and there can be a lot of pressure to show what a great time you’re having. There is always the possibility that someone is not who they say they are. Teach your child to always be questioning and to talk to you if something doesn’t seem quite right. It’s never ever a good idea to meet up with someone you have met online without letting your parents know about it.
How can they make the online world better for other people?
We all leave our own digital footprint and have a choice whether that’s positive or negative. Encourage your child to think about the language they use, the things they say and share, and how that might impact on other people.
Challenge your child and learn about online safety together with our tablet app
Use our age specific interactive guide to help talk to your child about cyberbullying.
Use this animated music video from Common Sense Media to talk with your child about the hazards of oversharing onlineWatch video
As a parent you have some decisions to make about how you want your child to engage online and on social media and what measures you want to put in place to help protect them:
Set up their device
Whatever device you choose, there are free controls you can use to stop your child from purchasing and using certain apps, seeing certain content, or limiting what they can share with others, like their location for example. Our set up safe how to guides to set parental controls to cover the most popular range of devices and apps and platforms children use. From YouTube Kids to streaming services like Netflix, you’ll find quick and easy steps to set up the right controls to create a safe place for your child to explore.
Getting the low down on sites, games, and apps
You will probably use social networks yourself, but you might want to know about new ones that your child is using or wants to use. Use them yourself and set up your own account so you can experience what your child might see. There are also many child-friendly social networks they could use while they get ready for the likes of Snapchat and Instagram.
Spend time together looking at the privacy settings. It’s always best to assume that default settings are public and should be changed accordingly. We’ve got some advice on using privacy settings on the most popular social apps.
A good profile
Use their nickname and a profile picture of their pet or favourite band, rather than themselves, and encourage them to only be friends with people they know in real life. Avoid sharing personal information like school, age, and place they live.
Use their nickname and a profile picture of their pet or favourite band, rather than themselves, and encourage them to only be friends with people they know in real life. Avoid sharing personal information like school, age and place they live.
There is a range of new apps and software that block, filter and monitor online behaviour. You’ll need to decide as a family whether this is the right approach for you, taking into consideration your child’s age and maturity, and their need for privacy.
Negotiating the gaming world
In some games like Minecraft or Roblox people deliberately try to intimidate other players. In multi-player games where gamers talk to one another – you might find abusive language, harassment and there have been instances of grooming. It’s vital therefore that your child knows how to report abuse and talks to you if something is causing them concern.
All children can enjoy the benefits of getting online with the right support. As a parent of a disabled child or child with special educational needs you might have additional concerns about potential risks but not using the internet can mean your child is isolated from other children and have an impact on them not only socially but in school and the workplace. The Anti-Bullying Alliance and Kidzaware have a range of resources to support disabled young people with getting online and with issues such as cyberbullying. Stonewall and Ditch the Label can also offer support to young members of the LGBT community to cope with bullying.
The online world can be a huge source of information and support for young people that feel different or vulnerable for lots of reasons. At some point your child may seek advice from the online world – whether through a search engine, through social networks or through a chat room and as a parent you can help your child find sites with good advice and information.