Help keep your children happy and safe online this summer holiday
Children and young people across the UK are getting ready to have more free time to spend with friends and family as the summer holidays get into full swing. Childnet, a partner in the UK Safer Internet Centre, looks at ways to engage your child and keep them happy and safe online.
For many young people, this time will be spent using the internet to keep in touch with school friends, catch up with the latest apps and online trends, and play their favourite games.
In this blog, we look at the ways in which parents and carers can help keep their children happy, creative and safe as they start to spend more time in the online world.
Find fun things to do together online (and offline!)
As you and your children will be spending more time together, why not find some fun and engaging ways to use technology and talk about keeping safe:
- Read Digiduck’s Big Decision with your children aged 3 – 7, this story follows the lovable Digiduck as he makes some tough decisions about how to be a good friend online.
- Have an adventure with Kara, Winston and the SMART Crew as they navigate the online world, and help them to make SMART online decisions.
- Watch the Childnet Film Competition winning films, these have been made by young people across the country and look at what young people want from the internet.
- Spend some time on BBC Own It: the website for 7-11 year olds has real-life stories, advice from experts, fun quizzes, and videos with CBBC presenters, celebs, and star vloggers.
- Get creative: Look up recipes and ways to be creative online together and replicate this offline.
- Create your own vlogs or blogs to chronicle the fun things that you did over summer 2019!
- Talk to your older children about issues or activities they are interested in. Use events in the news or issues raised on TV or Netflix to explore together what they think about their online lives including what is positive and negative.
- Have a look at factsheets, activities and conversation starters from Safer Internet Day this year exploring issues of consent online.
Get curious not furious
The summer holidays are a great chance to sit down with your children and find out about the things they like to do online. Together you can visit their favourite sites and join in with their favourite games. This is a great way to stay up to date with their online lives and show them that you’re interested in what they are doing.
Ensure that your child feels like they can always come to you if something happens to them online. We often find when speaking to young people that the main reason they give for not speaking to an adult if something goes wrong online is that they are afraid of being judged or having their devices confiscated. It is important that you remain calm if your child comes to you with an online issue and discuss together what the next steps you will take are. Have a look at our Hot Topics section which gives you advice, conversation starters and more on a variety of topics such as screen time boundaries, parental controls, social networking, gaming and more.
Explore digital wellbeing with them. This can be how the online world can provide support to them, help them connect, but can also form pressures and have a negative impact on their lives. Read our digital wellbeing hot topic on supporting your child, whatever age they may be.
Have a conversation about sharing holiday pictures
Some children may want to share photos and videos online of what they are getting up to in their summer holidays. Talk to them about what types of photos are appropriate to share, and who they are okay to share with. Photos can hold clues that give away personal information. For example, when sharing a selfie, are there any landmarks or street signs that give away your location? It’s also really important that they understand they should be asking permission when sharing content and that they know that they can say no if they want to.
This is true for photos you might share of your children too! It’s always worth asking children if they are happy with an image you want to share online. Watch this short video on how some young people feel about this issue. Role-modelling positive online behaviours, such as asking permission before sharing photos or videos, helps them understand that it is important to do.
Make a family agreement
A family agreement is a great way to start a conversation with your whole family about how you all use the internet and discuss together how to behave in a positive way when online at home, at school or at a friend’s house.
The agreement involves deciding on promises - these are positive statements about how your family want to look after each other online and how you should treat others online. The summer can be one of the best times to sit down as a family and agree these promises together. We have created some handy guidance to help you put the family agreement into practice.
And most importantly: enjoy the summer holidays!