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Summer’s here: a great time for your children to enjoy more time with you and maybe head off for a family holiday. However, the long days home from school also mean that they will probably be spending more time online … whether it’s on social media, playing games or watching videos.

You want your children to be sociable and inquisitive, but above all, to be safe. How long are they spending online? What content are they looking at? Who are they talking to? These days, it’s just as vital to make sure children are safe online as in the street or the park.

Please read our expert tips on helping to protect your children from increasingly commonplace issues such as accessing inappropriate content via websites and streaming, sharing too much personal information, believing fake news and thinking everyone they meet online is a friend.

  • Talk regularly with your children about their and your online lives. Get them to show you what they’re doing and try some of the technologies out for yourself. Show you understand how important technology is to them and talk about the benefits. Don’t shy away from discussing responsible behaviour, and talk about bullying and adult content in the appropriate language for their age.
  • Set boundaries and rules from a young age including how much time they can spend online for a healthy balance. Set an example by using your own mobile devices responsibly and at the right time.
  • Talk to your friends, family and other parents about how they help their children to progress and keep safe online. Exchange tips and share experiences.
  • Use parental control software and apps on computers, mobile devices and games consoles, privacy features on social networking sites, and the safety options on search engines. Opt into your ISP’s family filters. But use technological controls only in conjunction with giving guidance and advice.
  • Tell your children that not everybody they meet online is who they appear to be, whether they’re on social media, chatrooms, games or YouTube. Be aware that changes in behaviour or moods may be a sign of some kind of online abuse. Find out how to use social networks’ reporting buttons and show your children.
  • Check lower age limits of social networking and picture sharing sites and make sure your children aren’t using age-inappropriate sites, apps or games. Download apps only from recognised sources such as App Store and Google Play. Add your own email address when setting up accounts for your children.
  • Keep yourself up to date with new game ‘fads’, especially those with negative publicity because they may be violent, encourage gambling or leave the way open for grooming.
  • Be aware of the rise in children’s live streaming of themselves and the dangers associated with it. There is also a danger of children randomly being exposed to inappropriate content on video streaming sites such as YouTube.
  • Talk to your children about online safety basics such as not clicking on random links or attachments, good password practice, not turning off internet security programs/apps and firewalls and not revealing personal information such as their address, current location or private images.