Protecting your child in the digital world

Published: 22 March 2021

Going online and watching TV are an everyday part of children’s lives.

Children often have their own media devices and TVs, and new websites and gadgets are  appearing all the time.

It’s a tough job keeping up with it all and there’s a fine line between both encouraging and protecting at the same time.

There may be unsuitable content on the internet and the television that you don’t want your child to see.

But you can take steps to protect your children from the potential dangers and this guide explains how to do that.

Our research shows parents are concerned about what their children do and see on the media they use. However, there are lots of things you can do to help protect your child.

Set up PINs on your TV service

Most people can set up voluntary PINs on their TV set or TV service to restrict children’s access to unsuitable content. Your TV service provider or TV manufacturer should provide advice on how to do this. PINs can also be set up on catch-up and on-demand services.

Information on setting up PINs and other controls is available from Internet Matters’ guide to parental controls.

Get clued up about the social media sites children are using

Many social media sites have minimum age requirements for use. For example, for Facebook and WhatsApp it is 16. Check the minimum age requirements for the social media sites or apps your child uses and consider whether you are happy for them to access the type of content available through them.

Find out more about the social networks children are using on NetAware, the NSPCC’s guide to social media sites.

Install content filters to protect the devices in your home

You can set up content filters to help prevent your child from seeing unsuitable content online. This can be parental control software set up on a particular device, or network-level filters offered by your internet service provider, which protect all the devices that use the home broadband service. Your internet service provider can provide you with information on how to set up content filters. For more information see Internet Matters’ guide to parental controls.

Think about controls or settings on your devices

There are other controls and settings you can apply on the devices your children use. To find out about how to apply safety features to devices see the UK Safer Internet Centre’s Parents’ Guide to Technology.

Talk to your children about staying safe online

Even if you have PINs and filters in place, children may still be able to access content you would prefer them not to see. Talk to your children about what they do online and what to do if they see things that they find upsetting. See Childnet’s conversation starters or the NSPCC’s ShareAware guide for tips and ideas about how to start a conversation with your child about what they see and do online.

Be aware of cyber-bullying

Understanding the dangers of cyber-bullying will also help you keep your child safe online. There’s help and support available at:

Bullying UK, tel: 0808 800 2222

ChildLine, tel: 0800 1111; and

Childnet International, tel: 020 7639 6967.

Help your children to spot a fake news story

‘Fake news’ is more prevalent than ever. The Full Fact Toolkit can help your child to separate fact from fiction.

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