As millions of children get ready to unwrap internet-enabled gadgets on Christmas morning, families are being encouraged to discuss staying safe online.
Mobile phones, tablets and laptops can open up a world of exploration, learning and fun and children should be encouraged to make the most of the benefits.
But there are also risks and dangers to being online, and by working together parents and children can learn to safely navigate the internet and social media.
Advice about the best way to keep children safe is available from a range of websites, and the UK Council for Child Internet Safety has published a useful guide for parents and carers whose children are using social media.
Among the top tips are:
Explain how children can use privacy settings to make sure only approved friends can see posts and images, and warn them about sharing personal information
Check if any of the mobile apps they use have location services enabled, and disable this if they do not want to be tracked
Show them how to report offensive comments or block people who upset them
Check ‘tagging’ settings so that when others are posting or sharing photos online, your child’s identity is not revealed
Encourage your child to come and talk to you if they see anything that upsets them
Ask them to show you which social media apps they use, what they like about them and talk about how to use them safely
Minister for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock said:
It is essential to make sure children can enjoy all the benefits of the internet as safely as possible – whether that is for playing games, gathering information or staying in touch with family and friends.
As well as teaching children to be aware of online safety in the curriculum, keeping children safe online is a joint effort, and there are a range of simple and practical steps parents can take this Christmas to better protect their children from online risks.
Vicki Shotbolt, CEO of Parent Zone and executive board member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, says:
Parents who are buying tech toys this Christmas should think about it as they would any other gift that requires new skills.
When we buy our children their first bike we know we have to teach them to ride it. It’s the same with technology. Make sure they have the best possible experience using it by teaching them how to use it safely.
Will Gardner, CEO Childnet International says:
We need to protect the fun, the engagement and the opportunities provided by technology for children and young people, and parents and carers have an important role to play here in supporting them online”.
You can find out more about how children use social media, the apps they use, the risks they face, how to use privacy settings, and advice and tips about how to talk to your children at:
Notes to editors
Since 2015 the percentage of 5-15 year olds with their own tablet increased to 44% . Over the same period the percentage of parents using network-level parental controls has increased from 26% to 31%.