How to keep young children safe online

I’m sure I’m not alone in letting my 5 year old use a tablet to play games or watch YouTube videos – allowing her to use ours is the only way we manage to get to sleep past 05:30!

We all know what to tell teenagers about being safe on the internet- be careful in chat rooms, don’t put personal details on Facebook, don’t send naked photos to your boyfriend – but a lot of parents don’t realise that we also need to be vigilant with much younger children.

You might think your kids are safe because they don’t know about chat rooms or social networks yet, but it’s worth having a think about what they do look at.

Here’s some tips on how to keep young children safe online…

How to keep young children safe online | www.digitalmotherhood.com

 

YouTube

It seems that most young children are a bit addicted to YouTube these days. Whether it’s watching people unbox toys, doing make-up tutorials or watching episodes of Peppa Pig, our kids can find enough videos to interest them for hours.

The worry with YouTube is that you can click through to recommended videos and end up watching something completely different to what you started on. Little H was watching My Little Pony cartoons one minute and the next she was watching some awful video game called Five Nights at Freddy’s – thank god I was sat next to her at the time!

If your child is a little YouTube addict it might be worth replacing the app with YouTube Kids. It’s an official app that’s much more child friendly both in it’s use and in the content. There’s also parental controls that allow you to set time limits or restricted searching. So far we haven’t come across anything dodgy on this app.

How to keep young children safe online | www.digitalmotherhood.com

Making Videos

The natural progression from watching YouTube videos is kids wanting to make and upload their own videos to be the next Zoella or Stampy (I’m acting like I’m cool and know who they are!).

How to keep young children safe online | www.digitalmotherhood.comLittle H hasn’t quite worked out how to shoot a video on the tablet yet, but she got a VTech Action Cam for her birthday and has taken loads of videos of herself playing with her toys or scooting along.

She has begged me to add the videos to YouTube but I’m not really comfortable with this. I don’t like to mention her name on my blog or post too many of photos of her as I don’t think it’s a good idea for too much information about her to be public, there are far too many weirdos about these days. This is why my Facebook is private and I have a different Instagram for friends to see photos of her.

 

Putting content online

If you do allow your child to put video content  or photos online there’s a few things you should be aware of…

  • Don’t allow kids to mention personal details like their name, hometown or school.
  • Make sure they don’t film videos where the front of their house or the street name is visible.
  • Recording a video or taking a photo in their bedroom or while wearing school uniform could attract attention from the wrong kind of people.
  • Any video or photo could receive negative comments – how would your child cope with being trolled?
  • Are they likely to be teased if school friends see the video – for example will they be made fun of if they’ve filmed themselves playing with toys.
  • If they do get embarrassed by the videos or photos at a later date, it may be difficult to remove all traces of it from the internet as you have no control of where they have been shared.

Apps

Little H is a master at finding new games and installing them onto the tablet, I didn’t ever show her how to do it she just worked it out like I’m sure many kids do. At the moment she’s only really interested in Disney games, Dr Panda, or Princess nail salon apps, but once they know how to find and download games they could obviously find all sorts – you probably don’t want your little one downloading Grand Theft Auto or something similar.

It’s definitely a good idea to keep an eye on what your child is downloading, and ensure that there’s no apps that have public access to any videos or photos they might take. You probably already have a password in place to stop them from downloading anything that costs money, this would hopefully stop them from downloading games like GTA anyway.

Online Games

With some games – such as Minecraft or Sims – you can interact with other players. Unfortunately it’s not always children playing these games, and it’s a prime place to target yound children. With a lot of these games you can change the settings so that you are playing by yourself, I’ve done this with Minecraft and Little H has no idea. Admittedly it would be harder to fool slightly older children, so make sure you know what the games they are playing involve.

Parental Controls

You can set up parental controls with your broadband provider, directly on a smart phone or tablet, and within many apps and games to make sure that your child can’t access any adult content. Some tablets even have settings to turn off the WiFi after a certain amount of time so that you can restrict the amount of time they use them for.

Cyberbullying

I am so glad that online bullying wasn’t a thing when I was growing up  – dealing with it at school was bad enough, but nowadays kids can be bullied by their peers in the comfort of their own home as well.

Whilst hopefully not something that younger children will have to deal with, it’s worth parents being aware of the dangers as it may be something to watch out for as our children grow up. Cyberbullying can include texts, emails or messages on social networking sites, and the scariest bit is that they can be anonymous.

If you notice that your child seems upset after being online they could be a victim of cyberbullying.

Talk To Your Kids

It’s quite hard to know how much to tell younger children about staying safe – similar to having the ‘stranger danger’ chat without scaring them. It’s definitely a good idea to warn them about chatting with people online, encourage them to tell you if anyone tries to start a conversation with them or asks them for photos.

Make sure that they know never to tell anyone their name, address or what school they go to. You also want them to know that if anyone is mean to them, says anything nasty, or if they see something they don’t like, they should let you know.

Keep an eye on them

As lovely as it is to be able to get on with a few chores while they sit quietly, it’s also a good idea to sit with them and watch what they do on the phone or tablet. Play the games with them, check what they are searching for and keep an eye on their search history.

I hope you’ve found these tips on how to keep young children safe online useful, if you’re still worried about your child using the internet maybe have a chat with their school as they will no doubt have come across these issues before.

Sarah

 

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18 thoughts on “How to keep young children safe online

  1. justsayingmum says:

    Such an interesting read. My three are teens and we are dealing with this online safety on a daily basis – you can’t say it enough and you can’t check enough – it’s just part of daily life now. I’m recording a vlog on Monday with 2 teen specialists addressing this very issue of how to keep teens safe on line whilst respecting their privacy – I am sure many of the messages will be relatable to smaller children too. Thank you for sharing this post #PickNMix

  2. Mother of Teenagers says:

    Sarah ths is such a great post, full of really important information. My kids are 17 and 13 and have attended loads of chats at school on keeping safe and my husband and I have always considered ourselves vigilant but small things can slip through the net which has taught us not to be complacent and to keep checking, even with the parental controls in place. #PickNMix

  3. Suburban Mum says:

    This is a useful post with some great points. My boys love watching youtube and so many times they end up watching something inappropriate! You’ve actually reminded me that I need to download youtube kids! #PickNMix

  4. bridiebythesea says:

    This is so useful – my stepson is 12 and we are always worrying about this as you can never be 100% sure what he is looking at on youtube. I never knew about youtube kids and will be downloading that asap! Thanks for linking up to #stayclassymama

  5. mummydaddymia says:

    Great tips as we have not long had ‘issues’ with our 3 year old getting themselves onto all sorts of weird and wonderful videos on YouTube! YouTube kids has been amazing as we know she a lot safer on that! 🙂

    #PicnMix

  6. Mellissa Williams says:

    Fab tips, and great section on putting content online. My son is 19 and has his own youtube channel. When he was younger we tried to limit his online time and spoke to him about online safety and not giving off personal information

  7. Kellie Kearney says:

    Informative and interesting read. Had a similar experience with YouTube and recommended videos only last week. She loves spiderman and spidergirl but ends up on crazy videos that I wouldn’t watch myself. You got to be so careful!

  8. This Mama Life says:

    What a great post. Ironically (when I vlog with our daughter) I am terrified of letting her loose online on her own when she’s older. Just now its ok because I have all the control over it but I’ll struggle when she wants to watch things on YouTube other than our vlogs. It’s a scary world sometimes. You’ve shared some fab tips. Thank you 🙂 x

  9. wobblypip says:

    Letting your child go online is scary. I am lucky my daughter has always listened to the talks they have at school and the ones we have had at home so she has avoided many of the pitfalls her friends have experienced such as cyberbullying. She is very protective of her identity online though now she is older (16) it is harder to know where she goes as there are so many opportunities to go online outside the home.

  10. Mummy and monkeys says:

    This is an interesting post. My 8 year old loves YouTube but mainly mine craft videos so I will check out the kids version. It’s totally different growing up with it all now, the cyberbulying is definitely a worry. Thanks for linking to #picknmix

  11. Over Heaven's Hill says:

    Excellent advice, really appreciate you listing this for us. It’s so easy to get caught up and not realise the dangers our children face even with something as simple as watching youtube #brillblogposts

  12. Annette says:

    Lots of brilliant advice, I didn’t realise that You Tube had a children’s setting. I need to check this out. There are so many hidden dangers, I think we sometimes take it for granted that everyone is lovely. Thank you for linking up to the #DreamTeam

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