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Preparing young children for the internet

As soon as children begin to read and write they are able to communicate over the internet, so this is the time parents need to be creating and agreeing ground rules, teaching their children about the dangers of the internet and educating them on how they can stay safe online.

Working with your child at an early age will help them to respect the power of the internet, develop a responsible attitude towards communicating online and know how to avoid or mitigate any potential online problems in the future.

Build a healthy relationship

Communication is the key to ensuring your child’s safety and wellbeing online. Creating a respectful relationship will also help build trust and confidence between you both, so that, if any internet related issues do occur – they can be addressed together. Building this type of relationship early in your child’s digital life will make all the difference as your child grows and becomes more independent online.

Many young victims of cyberbullying and online abuse suffer alone because they feel that their parents or carers do not understand the problem or that they will lose ‘internet privileges’ such as internet access or the use of cell phones, if they report any problems relating to the internet to their parents. This can lead to the escalation of problems and can leave the child feeling trapped or helpless in their situation.

Keeping young children safe online

The various categories within this section provide lots of advice and tips for keeping your child safe online. We have also compiled a list of ‘golden rules’ for young people’s safety when using the internet and social media. The parents area of the website also has further information and tips for keeping children safe online.

  • Passwords – Teach your child to respect the importance of strong passwords and work together on a system for creating strong passwords that you can actually remember! Teach your child to treat their passwords like their toothbrush – never share them with anybody and change them every few months!
  • Once it is gone, it’s gone! – Make sure that your child understands how the internet works. Once somebody writes something online it is gone forever – it cannot be deleted later. Remind them that this also applies to images and videos – with screenshots able to be taken and used out of context at a later date.
  • Stranger danger – Let your child know that conventional dangers that are posed by strangers still exist online. Prepare them for the fact that not everybody is who they say they are online and to take nothing for granted.
  • Where to get help – You will not always be around to help your child if they have a problem online. We all like to believe that children stick to agreements such as only using the internet when supervised, but unfortunately this is not always the case – a friend normally has a smartphone to share most of the time. Make sure they know where to get help and support without your direction in case they need it later.
  • Never share personal information – Make sure your child knows never to share their personal information such as their name, address, phone number, email or school name with anybody online – or even in their profile information when signing up to new platforms or communities.