Tips for at Home

Children spend lots of time using the internet at school, on mobile phones and devices, via consoles and PCs, at home or with friends. They may visit social networking sites (such as Twitter, TikTok, Facebook and Instagram), or instant messaging online to chat to friends or play online games. YouTube is also very popular. All of these sites are often blocked on school computers, but still remain popular among children.

It is possible to buy special filtering and blocking software to protect your children, and most internet browser software has some filters and security in place. Filtering software allows parents to choose what is appropriate for their child to look at, but parents should be aware that this software may not be 100% effective.

If you keep your PC and device anti-virus security up to date, you should be protected from most threats from the internet or downloads. The popular browsers, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer and Google Chrome, also allow you to control or block content such as pop up ads or cookies. Cookies refers to a small file that is downloaded to your PC, which helps the site to remember details, such as the users name.

Always take care to protect your home computer and the members of the family who have access to it.

  • Don't panic - talk to your child and ask them to show you how they use the internet and the computer, learn which websites/tools they like to use and explain why. Learning together in such a way can open opportunities to discuss safe practise with your child.
  • Ensure that you know what your child is doing online, in the same way you do in 'real' life, such as what sites they're visiting and who they chat to. 
  • Ensure that you child knows the importance of not sharing personal information that could identify them in the offline world. This information includes names, school, phone numbers, email addresses, photos of themselves.
  • Set family rules about how the internet/mobile phones will be used. This must include rules around making and meeting friends - i.e. take a responsible grown up with them if they are meeting in real life, meet in a public place etc.
  • Talk to your family about the risks of downloading files from unknown and potentially illegal sources and copying information from the internet.
  • Bookmark/favourite sites for your child to use, so they are easily accessible to them.
  • Where possible, ensure your PC and devices are used in a family area and supervise younger children when spending time online.
  • Always supervise the use of webcams in your home.
  • Filter unsuitable sites so that they cannot be seen or used by your children. This doesn't have to cost a lot. Many Internet Service Providers (i.e. Sky or BT) will include filtering and some level of internet security. You should check with them what is already available before buying extra security software. Specialist PC stores should also be able to advise you.
  • Always ensure your child knows how to block or report another user who may be sending nasty or inappropriate messages or content. Make sure your child knows to tell an adult they trust if they see something online that makes them feel scared, worried or uncomfortable. If your child receives any abusive messages, keep them for evidence purposes to show to school or the police. Encourage your child not to retaliate or reply. You can also report problems directly to service providers and websites.
  • Be realistic - banning the internet will not work. Children use computers and games consoles at friends' houses and at school so education around its safe use is essential. Educate your children and the whole family will benefit from using the internet.