3-7 year olds
Children are engaging with technology from a very young age. Taking and sending photos and videos can often be one of the first things they become aware of, or learn how to do for themselves. This can have really positive benefits, such as keeping in touch with distant family via video messaging services.
Young children are naturally curious about their bodies. When they learn how to take and send photos, it may also mean they are at risk of taking and sending images that show them nude or nearly nude. They may explore this curiosity independently, or through wanting to compare themselves to their friends.
5 top tips for supporting children aged 3-7 online:
- Discuss what sorts of images are okay or not okay to share online: It’s important for children to learn what sorts of photos or video are okay and not okay to take of yourself, of others and to share online. There may be times when your child is changing or washing that could be a good moment to talk about what parts of the body shouldn’t be photographed and shared online, because they are private. You could apply the NSPCC PANTS rule to taking and sharing photos – any part of the body that is covered by underwear belongs to you and no-one else.
- Have regular conversations about your child’s online life: Begin by talking about how you use the internet as a family and what types of things you use the internet for. Talk about the types of images your child might like to look at or watch online, and if/how they use the camera on any devices they have access to. Use the conversation starters below to help guide these discussions.
- Be supportive: It's important that children know who they can turn to for help and that they feel listened to and supported if anything ever does worry or upset them online. Make sure your child knows who all the trusted adults are that they can ask for help, whether it's at home or at school. Children can be put off from telling an adult something they are worried about if they think they will get in trouble. This can be particularly true for nude images. Remind your child that they can talk to you about anything, and that together, you can help them to feel better.
- Establish rules and boundaries: Why not try using our Family Agreement to agree on such boundaries as when and where your child can access the internet, and what sorts of apps, games and websites they can use. This is a practical way to help you decide as a family how you keep yourselves safe online.
- Activate parental controls: There may be a risk that if your child sees any explicit or sexual images online, they want to explore taking similar images of themselves. Use parental controls to minimise this risk. You can filter the type of content children are able to view on devices themselves, or on your home internet connection. Visit Internet Matters for more detailed information per service, app and device. Remember that parental controls should form part of a wider approach to keep children safe online and not be used as a replacement for discussion and involvement. Parental controls can go some way to filtering the content a child can see online, but not the type of photo they are able to take or send themselves.
Conversation starter ideas
A simple and effective way to get involved in your child’s online life is through discussion - an open dialogue is the best way to help your child access the amazing resources the internet has to offer whilst keeping them safe online. Here are some conversation starters to help you:
- What is your favourite thing to look at online?
- What is your favourite thing to take pictures of?
- Who do you like taking photos/videos with?
- Do you like taking selfies? What do you with the selfies you take?
- Who can you go to if you are worried about something online?
There is more advice on having a conversation about thr private parts of our bodies with the NSPCC 'Pants' rule.
Online Safety resources for 3-7s:
Our Digiduck stories focus on critical thinking and being a good friend. The first story 'Digiducks Big Decision' looks at image sharing which can be a useful way to discuss this topic with young children.
Our Smartie the Penguin story looks at a range of online risks and can be a useful way to approach online safety with young children.