Essential Tips for Keeping Your Children Safe Online

Children safe online PT

As a Dad, protecting your children used to mean keeping them safe in the real world with teaching skills such as crossing roads, not talking to strangers and who to call if help is needed. Now there is also the added dimension of teaching them the right tools to know how to equip themselves on the Internet. Previous generations have always been behind their children as far as technology is concerned as they were the ones growing up with the computers and phones not the Mums and Dads, (I certainly know from experience as my Mum is a definite Technophobe!). But as parents now, we may be the first generation where we have a fighting chance of keeping ahead of our kids in the digital world, this doesn’t happen easily though and does require us all to be prepared to do a little bit of work to ensure we can stay one step ahead of our children online.

One place which is ever changing and as our little ones grow, an area where they will want to spend a lot of time, is using Social Media. This is the general term for sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and popular apps such as Snapchat, there are even sites for the younger ones such as Club Penguin. If used in a safe and controlled way, Social Media can be a great and fun way to interact with friends and family, but there are risks and safety concerns if we as parents allow them to roam free without any restrictions.

Below are some simple tips which can be applied to any social media site which your children are using:

  1. Abide the Rules of Age Restriction – Most of the mainstream Social Media Sites such as Facebook and Instagram have age restrictions of 13 years old. These are put in place for a reason, mainly because of data protection regulations (sites cannot collect personal information about children). Lots of parents have created pages for their children before they turn 13, the problem with this is that their online age will then differ from their real age which means for sites like Facebook which protects 13-18 year olds from adult content which may be available to older users, they may be subjected to content they shouldn’t see before they actually turn 18. This is kind of like the modern day equivalent of Fake ID and is encouraging them to lie about their age.
  2. Only Allow them to Add Contacts they know and trust – As kids reach their teens, social media becomes a popularity contest, who can get the most connections etc. This has it’s own security risks as it means you may be sharing personal information with people who they don’t know and may not be who they say they are. So it is therefore a good idea to instill from an early age, that when talking to people online, make sure they know who they really are, and if needs be, as a parent, vet them yourself first.
  3. Lock Down their Profiles – Most Social Media platforms don’t have the highest security settings set as standard so do some research into the settings for whichever flavour site is your pride and joy’s choice and help them ensure they won’t be sharing their photos and posts with the world and instead only with trusted friends and family.
  4. Add You as A Connection – Hardly the coolest thing for them to have their Dad (or Mum) as a friend, but as a first step to trusting them, they should have nothing to hide from you. You don’t have to be having active conversations with them through the site, but just knowing you may be aware of their activities will possible ensure they will be careful.
  5. Things Posted Online can Affect Their Future – They may think it is funny to post inappropriate/indecent content (as seen in the news this week but more and more Universities/Employers are searching Social Media before taking on recruits and any black marks could stop them being taken on. Therefore, it is important to ensure they are sensible with their postings. Especially when considering that things posted online stay there forever, even when deleted!

The other important point here is, we should be following these rules ourselves too, as ultimately we are the role models they will try and emulate. If we do things online that we have told them not to, it’s hardly going to stick is it?

We have to dip our toe into the world of social media, even if you aren’t tech savvy, there are resources out there (such as YouTube) which will help you understand how to set privacy settings on a particular platform or how to block an unwanted contact. Helping yourself to help make your little one’s digital journey that little bit safer.

 

About the Author:

“I’m Simon, been married to my incredible wife for 4 years and we have a 1 yr old son, who is our world. I work in the IT world and as part of my role, I volunteer to go out to schools to present Online Safety talks to students, teachers and parents. So I have a broad understanding of keeping kids safe on the Internet and also some of the troubles Parents have with knowing what their children are doing online. I flirt with being a runner, but nowhere near as often as I should and am an avid Peterborough United fan (for my sins :) )”.

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27 Comments

  1. Kim Carberry 8 September, 2015 / 10:05 am

    Thank you for this….A lot to think about. My girl is 13 on Thursday and she is wanting a Facebook account! Eek!

    • Al Ferguson 9 September, 2015 / 9:51 am

      I’m dreading that time. Good luck. Let us know how it goes :)

  2. Mrs Tubbs 10 September, 2015 / 1:35 pm

    Thank you, this is such a sensible post on a subject that worries many parents (including me!). All my growing up was done pre-Internet, thank goodness!

  3. Random Musings 19 September, 2015 / 2:05 am

    Great tips. I think parents today have a lot of extra worries to deal with due to social media. No parent wants their kid to be the one left out but safety has to come first. Thanks for hosting the #bigfatlinky
    Debbie

    • Al Ferguson 24 September, 2015 / 11:04 am

      Exactly that Debbie. Thank you for your comment :)

  4. Luke Strickland 19 September, 2015 / 7:46 am

    Useful tips… still a little way off with my own kids wanting to join social media sites etc, but even on the tablets we let them play on we make sure they’re switched to airplane mode to avoid accidental clicks or purchases!

    • Al Ferguson 24 September, 2015 / 11:04 am

      Ahhhh those accidental clicks ;)

  5. Elizabeth (Wander Mum) 19 September, 2015 / 9:15 am

    Great tips. I’m still a way off with this but it is a worry. It’s a totally different world out there with the advent of social media than when I was growing up.and who knows what will be next! Thanks for sharing #bigfatlinky

    • Al Ferguson 24 September, 2015 / 11:04 am

      A totally different world. I’m glad you thought the tips were useful.

  6. Life with Six Kids 19 September, 2015 / 9:16 am

    I haven’t set anything up yet so this is very helpful. I really need to get it sorted asap!

  7. Cheryl @ Reimer and Ruby 19 September, 2015 / 10:23 am

    Lovely post with great tips too! It’s worrying knowing all the negative things going on the internet, that’s why we parents should always be there on the look out and as guide for our kids. #bigfatlinky

    • Al Ferguson 24 September, 2015 / 11:03 am

      Absolutely Cheryl. thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

  8. Simon Prior 19 September, 2015 / 1:25 pm

    Thanks for all the positive comments on the blog. I will endeavour to write some more with some more tips! :)

  9. Cardiff Mummy Says - Cathryn 19 September, 2015 / 8:26 pm

    Oh goodness, my children are all 5.5 and under, but I worry about this a lot! I also worry what technology will be like when they are teenagers, because it progresses so fast! You are completely right about it being the modern equivalent of fake ID with children lying about their ages. But it seems often the parents support underage kids having their own accounts, because I guess it is better to know what your children are up to, than them do it behind your back. So much to think about! #bigfatlinky

    • Al Ferguson 24 September, 2015 / 11:02 am

      I worry about it too and Ted is only 1!

  10. Helen 19 September, 2015 / 8:45 pm

    Such vital tips to implement for keeping children safe – the internet is a fantastic tool but doesn’t come without it’s own dangers, unfortunatly. #bigfatlinky

    Helen x

    http://treasureeverymoment01.blogspot.co.uk/

    • Al Ferguson 24 September, 2015 / 11:02 am

      Exactly that Helen. Thanks for your thoughts :)

  11. Alexandra Hurton 19 September, 2015 / 9:20 pm

    Such an important topic. People really need to be on top of what their children do online. I have had issues with privacy and i’m an adult. The world if far to accessible online for young children.

    • Al Ferguson 24 September, 2015 / 11:01 am

      Completely agree, something that I really worry about :(

  12. Silly Mummy 19 September, 2015 / 10:16 pm

    Good advice. I want to keep my kids off social media as long as possible. I have no issue with them using it when they are nearly adults and have some sense of who they are, but I don’t want them to grow up with their identities tied up in what people online say about them. #bigfatlinky

    • Al Ferguson 24 September, 2015 / 11:01 am

      I couldn’t agree more, I think that hope is going to get further and further out of reach though sadly.

  13. Mrs Tubbs 20 September, 2015 / 10:02 pm

    Thanks for this, really useful. The Tubblet’s school is running an online awareness evening next month. Should be a sobering night! #bigfatlinky

    • Al Ferguson 24 September, 2015 / 11:00 am

      Won’t it just! Let us know what they say :)

  14. International Elf Service 20 September, 2015 / 11:00 pm

    These are such good tips to follow. We limit our kids ‘computer’ time and monitor what sites they’re on etc (eldest is 8) but even at this age, a fair few of their friends have free access. I hope they are kept safe.

    • Al Ferguson 24 September, 2015 / 11:00 am

      I find it incredible how many children of that age and younger have free access. Such a worry!

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