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Safer Internet Centre

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Tablets

Looking for advice on how to support your child in using a tablet safely and responsibly? Read our guide and FAQs below.

Tablets – Top 3 tips to take away:

  1. Talk with your child about responsible use of their tablet – what is okay and not okay to use it for? What are the risks? Tell your child what they should do if something goes wrong while using it. This could be to turn the tablet screen face down and tell an adult.
  2. Explore parental controls, both on the tablet and for your home Wi-Fi. Talk these through with your child too. Parental controls are a helpful tool, but an open conversation is the most important thing.
  3. Think about the location of the tablet. Will it be used in a shared family space or in a bedroom? Think about: setting time limits; reminding them about the risks of communicating online with people that they do not know; and encouraging them to come to you with any worries.

FAQs

What can a tablet be used for?

Tablets can browse the internet, send and receive emails and messages, and create documents and images. They have many similar features to a phone, such as a built-in camera for taking photos and recording videos with.

There are also a huge amount of apps that can be downloaded that allow the user to do many different things such as connect over social media, make video calls, play games, get news updates, help with schoolwork, and much more.

At what age should I let my child have their own tablet?

There is no official or recommended age for a child to have their own tablet.

As with any piece of technology, use your judgement to decide if you are happy for your child to use a tablet.

How can I introduce a tablet in a safe way?

Treat the tablet as a shared family device and spend time using it to play games, explore, and learn together. In this way, you can understand how to use the tablet and how your child likes to use it.

Explore the parental controls on offer and have a conversation with your child to set up some boundaries around their tablet use, for example, when and for how long they can use it.  Reassure them you want to help them to enjoy using it safely, and that they can talk to you if anything upsets or worries them while using it.

A shared family device can be a great way to demonstrate responsible and positive use of technology, both for preparing younger children for when they use technology more independently, or for older children who may already have other devices of their own.

What are the risks to having a tablet?

Like any piece of technology, tablets have both benefits and risks. Many of the risks depend on how a tablet is being used. There are some key concerns people have about children using tablets in particular:

  • Cyberbullying and harassment from friends and strangers
  • Unwanted or inappropriate contact from friends and strangers
  • Over-sharing personal information, such as full name, location or images
  • Accessing inappropriate content
  • Spending too much money
  • Excessive screen time
  • Behaving inappropriately or unkindly online

What can I do to manage the risks?

Parental controls can help limit potential risks, such as installing passwords, blocking certain websites or apps, and setting time limits and spending limits. For further information on how to set up controls on a tablet, visit Internet Matters’ Parental Control Guides.

Talk with your child about their understanding of the risks when using a tablet. Ask them what they would do if something happened, for example, if they were being asked to spend money in a game.  Decide together on what they should do if that happened, for example, pause the game and ask an adult. A family agreement can help you have these conversations. Explore safety tools such as blocking and privacy settings together and help your child set up these up where necessary.

Talk to your child about what they want to use the tablet for and do some research into some age-appropriate apps and games to download. Visit Common Sense Media for age-based app and game ideas.

Make sure your child knows to speak to a trusted adult immediately if anyone they only know online (a stranger) asks to meet up, for their personal information, or for photos or videos of them.

Find out more advice to managing specific risks here.

What about inheriting or buying a second hand tablet?

Restore any second-hand tablet to its factory settings before your child uses it. This means deleting all data on the tablet and returning to its basic settings, as if it was new. This will avoid you or your child potentially accessing someone else’s personal information, private messages, photos, accounts, etc. It will also allow you to set up parental controls that are most suitable for your child.

For further information visit Internet Matters’ Q&A on Tablet Security.

What can I do if something goes wrong?

Reassure your child you are there to listen and help. Ask about the problem and try to find out how it happened. Try to remain calm and non-judgemental, to help your child feel comfortable in telling you how the issue happened.

Work with your child to report or block any unacceptable behaviour or other users. Contact your child’s school for further support, particularly if it involves cyberbullying between classmates or inappropriate contact from an adult. If you suspect that your child is or has been the subject of inappropriate sexual contact by another person, report this to Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre at www.ceop.police.uk.

If your child has accessed inappropriate content, you can report this to the site or service it appeared on. Find out how to do this on the Childnet website.

Explore the settings to see if you can limit the risk of it happening again.

For help for on specific problems, see the following advice on screen timecyberbullyinggroomingsextingappsin-app purchases, and digital wellbeing.