How we can keep under 5s safe online

Posted on 07 April 2017

Children love using technology and are learning to navigate websites, online games and consoles, and touch screen technology like iPads and smartphones from a younger and younger age.

Last year Ofcom research found that 34% of 3-4 year olds own their own media device such as a tablet or games console. Although this technology offers many opportunities for young people it’s important that they have the knowledge they need to use these devices safely and responsibly. A key part of this is having regular conversations with their family about staying safe online.

These frequently asked questions will provide you with useful information and tips that you can put in to place at home, to help keep your young children safe online.

Where do I start?

The best way to start is by having an open and honest conversation with your family, this will help you understand your children’s internet use, another way is to see how your children use the internet is to use the internet together.

Be positive and embrace the technologies that young children enjoy and look for family activities or games. Take time to explore the games and services that your children are using, or that they want to use, and look out for any safety features that may be available. This will give you a better understanding of the different ways that children are engaging with technology and help you to feel more confident.

How can I supervise my child?

Placing your computer or laptop in a busy part of the house e.g. the living room or kitchen can be helpful. This can make it easier for you to be involved in their technology use. But remember, the internet can be accessed from a number of portable devices, for example smartphones, iPod Touch, games consoles and tablets. Portable devices may allow you to ensure your children are using them where you can see them and your children can still be supervised. To find out more about the internet capabilities of smartphones, gaming consoles and other devices, access our Parents’ Guide to Technology.  

Are there tools to help?

There are free parental controls and filters available, to help you set safer boundaries for your children, but you will usually be required to set them up.

Your internet service provider (such as BT or TalkTalk) will provide free filters to help block age inappropriate content for children, and on the UK Safer Internet Centre website you can watch video tutorials that show you how to find and set these up.

All mobile phone operators (such as O2 or Vodafone) also provide such parental controls for free, however it is important to request this at the time in which the phone is bought for a child. Often, young people may receive their parent’s ‘hand-me-down’ phones, however as the phone was bought in an adult’s name, these parental controls will not be in place. The websites of device manufacturers (such as games consoles) should also outline the controls to which you have access.

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