Using the internet is a big part of our everyday lives.
The best time to talk to your little one about online safety is when they are using it. With children under 5 it may be hard for them to understand as we protect them from being exposed to anything that may cause harm however there are some gradual things that you can do to support your child’s understanding. It is important to establish your expectations from day one. Of course, not all decisions you make need to be explained to your children, as they may not be age-appropriate, however there is lots that you can talk about from the outset.
Here are some of our top tips -
1) Read all about it!
Reading with young children provides a great opportunity to talk to them and explore what they already know and understand.
Please also take a look at the Digiduck stories which also cover a range of online safety themes, in an age-appropriate and sensitive way. They are available online through this link – https://www.childnet.com/resources/digiduck-stories/detective-digiduck
There is also an ebook about the internet that you can share with preschool children please follow this link – https://www.childnet.com/ufiles/On-the-internet...2.pdf Using resources like this will help to start a conversation around what you can do online and to talk to an adult if anything makes them upset.
2) Explore the online world together
Use child friendly search engines or ensure that safe-search settings are applied when you are looking for information online. Some children pick up language such as Alexa, Hey Siri and Google it!. When they talk about this, this creates a brilliant opportunity to model safe searching.
It would be good to talk children through step by step what you are doing and how we click on the links at the top of the page first. When talking to your child about going online it is key to reiterate what to do if your child see something that upsets you them, this could include turning the device over or switching it off straight away and getting an adult to help.
3) TV, streaming and online videos
Whether you are watching programmes on a children’s TV channel on demand or through a ‘kids’ profile you’ve created on a streaming service, viewing through a dedicated children’s app or account can help ensure that they can only access appropriate content.
It’s important to shadow what older children may be watching as well to ensure your little one is not accidentally exposed to something they shouldn’t be. When watching something together it's perfect time to stop and talk about what you might do if a video turned out to be upsetting or scary, this could be for them to turn the device over and tell an adult straight away. Many websites do have restrictions and filters however on occasions it has been known that scary things can be added in without warning.
For children of any age, the most important piece of advice that you can give is, “Tell someone.” Ensure that your children know they can come and tell you straight away if they see or hear anything online that worries, upsets, confuses, or makes them feel uncomfortable in any way – and that they won’t ever be ‘in trouble’ for telling you, even if they have clicked something that you would rather they hadn’t.
Please keep a look out for any updates!