Has your child recently received an electronic device as a present? An Xbox, Playstation, a new smart phone, tablet, Call of Duty or Black Ops 3 maybe? Then you need to ask yourself a few questions to ensure that they can use them safely.
Do the devices come with parental or family controls already installed?
The shop or store will be able to provide you with this information, or you can search for this information online if you’re buying second hand. However, here’s a step-by-step guide to setting parental controls. Internet providers also offer support to activate parental controls. Find more information on smart phones, gaming devices and tablets (including iPads and Kindle Fires).
Is the game appropriate for my child?
Games are rated in a similar ways to films by age appropriateness depending on the level of violence, strong language or sexually explicit images. When buying a game ensure you check the PEGI rating (Pan European Game Information). You can check ratings and reviews for games as well as websites, apps and videos at Common Sense Media.
Is it an online game where they talk to other players?
Many games allow gamers to play against people online, potentially from all around the world. While gaming you can communicate with people by text, voice or video chat. This might mean your child is exposed to offensive or aggressive language from other players. Bullying can also happen, which is known as ‘griefing’ in games, when players single out others specifically to make their gaming experience less enjoyable.
Young people can also make themselves vulnerable to contact by those with a sexual interest in children if they give out their personal details. If you are worried about a child who has had an uncomfortable or distressing experience online, help is available.
Why do they want to download those apps and are they appropriate?
Do you know much about the app or social network your child is using? Are you worried that they may not be appropriate? From Snapchat to Tinder, check this A-Z of sites, games and apps from Net-Aware. It’s gives some great information about the app, gives a child or young persons view of why they like using the app and also a great feature which gives the official age guidelines of the app side by side with what other parents and children think is the right age for the app.
How do I switch the webcam off?
Webcams make it possible for us to chat face to face with friends and family wherever we, or they, may be. However webcams can be hacked, putting your child at risk. To avoid potential harm, check out the BBC’s videos and tips.
How long should your child spend online at any one time?
There is no right or best answer but all of us need exercise and a variety of activities to keep us healthy and happy. Too much time spent sitting will lead to poor health, lack of sleep and lack of concentration in school. For younger children, bed time should be just that; don’t allow your child to go to bed and then carry on playing on a device.
Talk to your child
It is really good to talk to your child about the device or game or app, to know why they’re using it and how to be responsible. Here are some great conversation tips
While the internet can seem like a scary place when you’re a parent of a child who is going online, being connected is an important part of children and young people’s development these days, and can be a useful tool socially and to help with school work. As long as you are aware of the dangers, and take steps to reduce them, allowing your child to have an online presence is a good thing that should not be discouraged.
For further help and information:
- The Welsh Governments digital learning site Hwb which you can find here
- The UK Safer Internet Centre advice and guidance for parents resources.
- The Internet Matters website for general information about online safety.
Some information provided by South West Grid for Learning