The risk of exposure to inappropriate material is a growing concern in our increasingly digital environment, meaning many parents are constantly on their guard against unexpected sources of violent, adult, distressing or criminal content.
Parental controls and supervised use of the internet are the recommended foundations of safe internet use. But with new technologies offering our children an increasing number of ways to connect with and use the internet, does staying on top of the situation feel like a struggle?
We’ve curated advice from child safety and technology experts to help you protect your children from inappropriate content online:
Supervise shared content
Stop any inappropriate shared content reaching your child by always supervising them online. Switching on the notification sounds and lights on mobile phones and tablets can help to reduce the risk of children seeing any harmful shared content.
Games, apps and films publish age ratings to help parents decide whether to allow their children access or not. Some social networks set a minimum age limit of 13, however, many parents don’t allow their children to have accounts in order to protect them from risks including harmful content, grooming, cyberbullying, privacy breaches and scams.
Whitelist content channels
Children are blessed with endless curiosity, which in the modern world can extend to consuming every pixel of content they find online. Multiple digital content channels are available to our children ranging from social media, messaging apps, streaming services, search engines and news channels.
A whitelist app can automatically block any website not listed in your list of permitted websites. Creating a whitelist of websites for your children to use can also help to keep them focused on the task in hand, for example, researching their homework. If you use YouTube Kids it’s possible to use their whitelist functionality – parents can pre-approve which videos and channels are available to their children.
Use parental controls to blacklist websites
Set their device settings for ‘Block inappropriate websites’ to On. You can block specific websites by adding their URLs to the permissions.
Turn on time limits
Set your router to shut off internet access between set hours to stop children having any opportunity to go online, for example, after bedtime or before breakfast. This also helps to limit your children’s screen time and can help to improve the quality of family time together.
Use an ad blocker
To minimise the risk of children seeing inappropriate, distressing or adult pop-up ads, parents are advised to consider installing an adblocker. This way the risk of banners and auto-play video ads can be minimised.
The Internet Matters website is an extensive resource of advice and warnings for parents, which can be visited here https://internetstg.wpengine.com/en/advice/6-10/
For practical advice on internet safety from the NSPCC, you can visit – https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/
To read more about age ratings online, visit the Internet Matters website – here https://internetstg.wpengine.com/en/resources/video-games-age-ratings-explained/