Advice and Tips for Parents/Carers
It is important to speak to young people about the websites and apps they may currently be using. Parents/carers should to talk to young people frequently about their online activity and which sites they visit.
The internet, and related devices, used by people are useful and are an integral part of the modern world. However, they can also be dangerous and detrimental to a child’s wellbeing if not used correctly.
Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
A common concern for parents and carers is the amount of time a child can spend online. Young people who use the internet excessively at home or on their mobile phones can display addictive qualities which can lead to depression, anxiety, stress and poor sleep quality.
Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a type of social anxiety common amongst teenagers. It stems from a belief that the child is missing out on events or activities if they do not stay continually connected to their social group.
Social media, and the ease at which young people can connect on phones, has exacerbated this and is a common cause of phone addiction.
Smart phones have access to the internet and apps which can endanger a pupil’s safety, increasing the risk of harm through prolonged phone usage. Social media encourages 24-hour communication, and many young people are experiencing poor sleep patterns through interaction at night. This increases the risk of danger and can impact their moods and focus in the day.
It is also important young people understand appropriate use of a phone’s camera and video. Sharing images or videos can be detrimental on mental health and also increase their chances of harm from strangers.
Young people should only access appropriate online content, they should also be aware of how to use the sites safely. The sites below offer good, clear advice about talking to young people about the internet and advice regarding e-safety which all families should be aware of.
Staying Safe Online – Tips for Parents/Carers
Agree rules for home internet use
As a family agree on a set of rules for internet use and stick to it! Ensure that children know that they could lose their browsing privileges if they break the agreed rules.
• Make rules for when it is acceptable to use the internet.
• Set rules for everybody in the house.
• The internet can be used as a reward for family members when they complete tasks, Home Learning or jobs around the home.
• Consider if a child should have their phone, laptop or iPad in their bedroom at night.
• Agree that personal information is private and should be treated this way.
• Teach the child how to behave towards others, what is acceptable use of the internet and what is to be discouraged.
Ensure you have filters on your internet
All internet providers have parental controls which can filter the searches and sites used by children. Visit the UK Internet Safety Centre site to watch videos about how to set these on BT, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin Media.
Other internet provider parental settings advice and guidance can be found on their home page on the internet or by calling them.
Discover the internet together
Spend time online with children, discover new things together. Try to find things which you both find interesting and fun, to create a positive internet experience. It is important to understand how children use the Internet. Let your children show you what they do online and the sites they visit. Build a connection through their online use and make the internet a positive experience for both the child and yourself.
Talk to children about the internet and their usage
It’s crucial to talk to your child about what they’re doing online. Remind and encourage them to ask for help from home or school if they are worried or unsure about anything. Talk to them about how influential the internet can be and how they must strike a balance about browsing and real life.
Encourage your child to ‘block’ other users
Children who experience strangers contacting them, or others acting inappropriately, should block them. This can be done on all communication and game sites. This includes friends, classmates and other users who may make rude, bullying or aggressive posts. Make sure your child understands how to do this and when it is appropriate to do so.
Encourage your child to be careful when disclosing personal information
Ensure that children understand how important privacy on the internet is. They should not be sharing any personal information with others and all communications must be on sites with strict privacy settings.
Talk to children about the risks of the internet, online ‘friends’ and strangers
Children should never communicate online with anybody they do not know, this includes while playing online games. Children should never speak to or agree to meet strangers. Children do not know who the person really is, how old they are or what their intentions are. Always report your concerns to CEOP, click the link button for more information and support with this.
Be aware of age restrictions
Most of the most popular sites used by children have age restrictions, and these are in place for a reason: to keep young people safe. Do not let children sign up for sites which they are not ready for, this includes YouTube, Instagram and games.
Current Age restrictions on some popular apps and sites:
WhatsApp – 16 years old
Tik Tok – 16 years old
Instagram – 13 years old
SnapChat – 13 years old
YouTube – 13 years old
More age restrictions for sites and social media can be found at https://www.internetmatters.org/resources/what-age-can-my-child-start-social-networking/
Teach and remind your children to critically evaluate information they see online
Children should be aware that not all information online is accurate, true or appropriate. Discuss with them how to search for accurate websites, sources and information. Children should trust you, and not others, regarding information they see online. Encourage them to speak to you if they have doubts about what they are seeing or reading, and teach them about what is appropriate for them to look at and see by showing them trusted sites.
Agree a mobile phone curfew
Mobile phones encourage 24 hours communication. Having a phone in the bedroom at night can seriously disrupt a child’s sleeping patterns which can negatively impact a young person’s mood and focus during the day.
Young people may also be increasingly exposed to risk-taking behaviour at night. This may include inappropriate communication with strangers.
Remember, the internet is great!
The internet is an important part of a child’s life. It is an important aspect of their social life which when used properly can be engaging, fun and creative. Pupils should be encouraged to research topics and use the internet as a learning tool. They should have access to it but they need to use it responsibly by being knowledgeable about the negative aspects, dangers and consequences of some actions. Children must understand what to do if they are worried or have concerns when online.