This post is made as part of our December partnership with Safe and Sound, an amazing charity dedicated to ending child exploitation.
For kids, there’s nothing more exciting than opening up their Christmas presents. Plenty of them wait all year long, just to get to tear off the wrapping paper. And for a whole lot of kids this Christmas, they’re going to unwrap their first smart devices. Mobile phones, tablets, and laptops are incredible presents for any child, opening up a whole new world for them to explore.
The internet can be an amazing tool for children to learn, play, and socialise with their friends. However, it can’t be denied that there’s something of an ugly side to the internet as well. The truth is that children simply aren’t equipped to understand how potentially dangerous the internet can be. Which means that it’s your job to ensure that they’re staying safe online. That’s not always easy, but with this handy information pack, you’ll be far better equipped to help your children have a safe and pleasant time online.
What age is too young for the internet?
This is one of those questions that has a lot of answers. After all, the internet is a huge place and there’s no single rule that applies across the board. If you’re talking about social media, then the majority of organisations recommend that children under the age of 13 shouldn’t be using social media. It’s not a pleasant thought but there are a lot of safeguarding issues with sites that allow for direct social interaction and young children simply aren’t equipped to handle those. Even if they’re not coming into contact with things like grooming and trafficking, online bullying and harassment are things that can happen and young people simply aren’t equipped to appropriately deal with them.
Deciding when is appropriate for your child to start using devices with online connections is going to be a personal choice. However, you should make sure that your child is never left unsupervised. As they get older, they may well want a little more independence online, and sure, you don’t want to spend every moment staring over their shoulder, but it’s important to make sure that you’re keeping a close eye on their internet use as much as you can.
Sites to be avoided.
Even as you start to give your kids more access and independence online, there are still certain corners of the internet that are best avoided. Obviously, there are the strictly adult sites that no parents want their kids able to access but you may also want to restrict certain other sites as well. Social media sites are a big one. Even if you’re happy that they’re at an age where it’s appropriate to have a social media account, that doesn’t mean that they need totally unfiltered access to everything those sites have to offer. Sites like Twitter, Reddit, TikTok, and even Youtube might have a lot of child friendly content, but they also have a lot of content that is inappropriate for anyone under the age of 18.
The last thing you want is for your child to be innocently browsing one of these sites and then be confronted with something harmful entirely by accident. That’s not even considering the fact that there are people who specifically target child-friendly sites and communities in order to infiltrate and prey on young people. There are internet browsers specifically designed to be safe for kids, as well as content limits built directly into many apps, but you need to be sure that you’re paying attention to what your children are doing online.
On top of that, there are some sites that should be avoided by young people at all cost. Sites like 4chan and apps like Discord can be incredibly dangerous spaces for children and young people. Being able to block these sites entirely is often the best choice.
How to discuss online safety with your children.
Being able to set up technological safeguards for your kids is incredibly important, and something that we at LogicBarn know very well. However, there’s more to keeping your kids online safe than just restricting what they can access. You need to be willing and able to communicate with them about these things. Conversations about online safety aren’t always easy to have but that doesn’t make them any less important.
It’s crucial that you discuss with your children from an early age that not all of the content on the internet is suitable for them. You should be open with them about the parental controls that you have on their devices and the limits on their internet usage. It’s easy for kids to feel like the rules their carers give them are just designed to make them miserable but if you’re willing to discuss the reasons behind them, you can help your children understand that those things are in place for their own safety.
What can you do if you’re worried about your child?
Most of us dismiss things like online exploitation as something that couldn’t possibly happen to our children. But ignoring a problem just makes it worse. If you’re starting to worry about your child’s internet usage, that can be incredibly scary but there are plenty of resources out there that can help.
In particular, Safe and Sound are an incredible resource for families in Derby who may be concerned about their child’s experience online. Whether you’re worried about a change in their behaviour or you simply want some more information to help protect them better, Safe and Sound is an incredible organisation dedicated to the wellbeing of children and families.
Here at LogicBarn, online safety is something incredibly close to our hearts and we couldn’t be more proud to partner with such an amazing charity in order to help you keep your family safe online this Christmas.