Staying Safe

Protecting kids from harmful content

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How can I protect my kids from looking at illegal, inappropriate, or harmful content online?

Parents used to worry about the stash of magazines hidden under the bed. Now it’s the browser history. And all that gossip and drama in the schoolyard now plays out online.

Luckily, there are simple tools that help you manage the content your children are able to see. It’s also wise to make sure young people understand that they need to be careful about clicking on links in emails or opening email attachments from people they don’t know.

“If there is one thing he loves more than Minecraft its watching Minecraft videos on YouTube. Recently he started getting nightmares and when we looked at his YouTube history we discovered why. He had been clicking on recommended videos and had started watching Minecraft video that had swearing and graphic content. We turned on Safety Mode on YouTube, but we also talked to him about the kind of videos we did and didn’t want him to watch.” – Paul

Of course, as they get older, they need to know how to use the internet wisely even when they’re on their own. And as digi-savvy parents, that means equipping our kids with the skills they need to navigate online safely and responsibly. We can’t put a Policeman in every website. But we can put one inside every young person’s head!

Simple Safety Tips.

  • Just as you rely on TV parental guidelines and film ratings to help protect your child from unsuitable content in other media, make the most of online tools and set controls on Social Media and Smart Phones but remember there is no substitute for parental supervision!
  • With younger children, be aware of how they use the internet, then agree which websites they can use; with teens, discuss what is appropriate and what’s not.
  • Discuss the importance of age limits on social media, game sites and video-sharing websites (e.g. Facebook and YouTube is 13+) – these age limits are there to help protect younger children from unsuitable content. Use your judgement – you know your child best and will know when they are ready to have a social media account.
  • Explain why they shouldn’t click on links or open email attachments sent by people they don’t know, or respond to surveys or questionnaires.
  • Make sure they know they can talk to you about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable at any time, and reassure them that you won’t take away their internet access, mobile or games console.
  • If you’re concerned that something your child has seen online is inappropriate report it to your internet, mobile or games provider (go to the ‘Help’ or ‘Safety’ areas on their website to find out how) or report it to NetSafe.

The 3 Cs of staying safe online

  1. Content: Controlling what they can see, which games and apps they use, and using age-appropriate filters.
  2. Conduct: How they behave towards others online. Reporting bullying behaviour, teaching respect and tolerance, and being a good online citizen.
  3. Contact: Blocking people who make them feel uncomfortable or who could hurt or harm them. Exercise caution in who they do and don’t talk to online and not giving out personal details.

Quick Tips

  1. Keep communicating: Do they understand the consequences of sending inappropriate images? Make sure they know nothing is guaranteed to stay private.

In the news

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