One of the biggest changes parents notice, from what seems like the first day their child starts at secondary school, is their discovery of a whole new world at their fingertips!
Social media can be fun, however it's important to understand the risks your child faces online by staying (or attempting to stay) one step ahead of them. So if you’re not up on your gaming or social networking, now’s the time to learn.
Online safety gets plenty of coverage at most primary schools, so your child is probably well aware of the dangers, and may well be able to teach you a thing or two. Here are a few ideas to help your child have a good online experience:
Find out what they already know.
Ask your kids what they've learned at school about staying safe online. Delve a little to get a good understanding of where they're at, but don’t be intrusive or they may look for ways to bend the rules as they get older.
Ask what they enjoy using.
At this age it’s likely to be online gaming; watching and downloading TV shows, music and vlogs; and social networking. Check out the age ratings first, if they’re too young then explain why you don’t want them to use them – and if that’s your decision, don’t be persuaded otherwise by your kids or other parents!
Safety and security features.
Make use of the safety and security features on offer. Set up any new devices yourself and run through the security settings together.
Agree your house rules.
Discuss how long devices can be used for, when and where. Strike a deal that you have the right to check what they're looking at, sharing and commenting on social media from time to time. And encourage the whole family to only use devices in shared living areas and to switch mobile phones off at night.
Attend an online safety session.
Schools often run online safety sessions for parents, so find out what’s on offer and go along. And if you have any concerns about content they may have downloaded or been sent by other students, speak to the school.
There are some brilliant online resources for parents and children, these are a few of our favourites:
Internet matters. A not-for-profit organisation that has a simple purpose – to help keep children safe in the digital world.
Instagram Parents' Guide. Instagram consulted with a number of organisations, including Parentkind, to produce a guide to help parents know how to talk to their teens about the social media platform and to understand what tools are available to make sure their experience is positive, intentional and safe.
Net-Aware. A website created by the NSPCC and O2 to help parents see what sites, apps and games are popular, why young people like them, and how safe they are.
BBC OwnIt. Fun and empowering tips, insight, stories and advice to help 9-12 year olds get the most out of their time online.
UK Safer Internet Centre. A partnership of Childnet International, Internet Watch Foundation and SWGfL, they promote the safe and responsible use of technology for young people. The website includes social media guides that take you through the safety features available on popular social networks.