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Staying Safe Online over the festive season - useful tips for Parents and Carers

As the festive season gets underway, many children and young people may receive gifts they can use to go online so it is a good opportunity to give some thought to how we can support them to stay safe whilst having fun.

Gifts such as Tablets, Gaming Consoles or Smartphones can all be used to go online so it is important to think ahead about what safety features are available and set them up in advance. Our colleagues at the UK Safer Internet Centre have some very useful checklists with things to consider when choosing different devices: Tablets - Gaming Consoles -  Smartphones 

Tip: The Safer Internet Centre also has some excellent advice in their Parents’ Guide to Technology and includes device-specific settings for different models.   

Setting up Parental Controls on the home internet connection may seem a little daunting, but the highly-regarded Internet Matters website has some really useful guidance from major broadband providers about setting up online filters.

Tip: Use the Interactive guide.

Agreeing some Behaviours and Expectations before children receive devices can help to prevent some difficult conversations later. Additionally, our colleagues at Childnet have a handy Family Agreement, which can be useful, especially for younger children – see:

Tip: Good agreements work both ways so if family-time involves no tech, this applies to adults too!

Not sure about Snaps, Streaks or Insta? The variety of Apps and Social Media tools can seem bewildering at first, but the very-highly recommended NetAware resource from O2 and the NSPCC is an excellent way to find out more about the different apps and games your child may use – see:

Tip: NetAware also has an app for your smartphone to stay in touch with the latest updates.

Games can be over-looked, but remember most modern consoles connect online and often have inbuilt web browsers. Ensuring appropriate gaming content is also important so make sure to check what PEGI-rating different games have, including the descriptions such as Sex, Violence or Bad Language – see:

Tip: Some games also offer in-game purchases for additional content – if so, use vouchers rather than credit cards to help save you from unexpected bills later.

Don’t forget the Positives! Being aware of the potential risks the online world poses is very important, but don’t forget it also offers us immense opportunities and benefits. If you still aren’t too sure, get involved and ask your child to teach you about their online world and what they do (and don’t) like.

Top Tip: The LSCB’s ‘Useful Tips for Parents and Carers’ can be found at the top of the Parents and Carers section of the LSCB Online Safety website and also contains a variety of really useful information:

Lancashire Safeguarding Children Board 2017