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A child learning how to stay safe online using a phone with parental controls.

A guide of how to stay safe online for parents and children

Christmas is just around the corner and many of us will be getting a new phone or tablet. This is especially true for many of our children. But how do you ensure that they are able to use it properly to stay safe online?

As a parent your child is likely to need a phone or tablet at some point for school or to stay in touch. The recommended age for a first phone is around 10 years old. So, what can you do to ensure that your child is able to stay safe online?

Parental controls to aid online safety

Whilst there are a number of things you can teach your child, the parental controls on any smart device are a proactive measure to help them stay safe online.

Using the phone or tablet’s settings menu, you can do things such as:

If you are buying your child an iPhone then Apple has this very useful parental controls guide to restricting content, apps, iTunes purchases and more.

For Android phones, such as Samsung, Huawei and Google Pixel, use this Google Play Store parental controls guide instead.

Use strong passwords

A strong password makes it harder for a hacker to guess and gain access to an account.

Our top tips are to use to make it long and difficult to guess with a mix of upper and lower case letters. In addition, use numbers and special characters. What’s more, don’t ever use personal details in a password.

Set up 2-factor authentication

The use of 2-factor authentication adds another layer of security to your accounts. Often a code will be texted to your phone and this ensures that only you have access to your account.

Keep devices and apps up-to-date

Updates to phone and tablet operating systems, as well as the apps that run on them, need to be kept up-to-date. The reason for this is that updates contain important security fixes, as well as new security controls or privacy measures. Regularly updating your device and its apps is therefore imperative to stay safe online.

For more on how to update your iPhone or iPad to the latest version of iOS follow our useful guide.

Ensure every website is https

Make sure that any website visited starts with https. This ensures that the website is secure and information sent to it is encrypted and unlikely to be intercepted.

A child learning how to stay safe online using an iPad tablet.

7 other top tips to stay safe online

It’s important to remind children of the significance of their digital footprint with what they do and post online.

1. Think before posting

Don’t upload anything that you will regret putting online.

2. Don’t share personal information

Keep personal information private and don’t share anything that could be used by someone to trace or track you. For example, a school logo in a photo.

3. Be wary of Phishing Scams

A phishing scam is when someone tries to trick you in to giving a password, financial or other important information. Therefore, never click links in emails, even if they appear genuine. Always visit any website directly or use their app instead.

4. Cover webcams to ensure privacy

Always cover a webcam when not in use to avoid someone having access to it that you may not be aware of.

5. Be careful what you download

Malware is often contained in downloaded files. If something looks suspicious or doesn’t come from a trusted source then don’t download it.

6. Make purchases from secure websites

Only use websites that start with https and display the padlock symbol, plus are retailers that you know or trust.

7. Be careful who you meet online

Be as cautious in your online life as you would be in your personal life. Fake social media profiles are an all to real occurrence.

A child practising Internet safety whilst using a tablet.

What to do if things go wrong?

There are several ways to get support or report anything if the worst should happen.

Talk to someone you trust

Telling a parent, guardian or even contacting Childline are all good ways of seeking help if something bad has happened online.

Report bullying or abuse

If you experience any kind of bullying or abuse then this should be reported to the app. In extreme cases this should be escalated to higher authorities.

Inform the Police

In the case of threats, blackmail or malicious messages, all of these should be reported to the Police.

How to stay safe online overall

Following the tips outlined here can help avoid a great number of the nasty surprises and help to stay safe online.

Many children will be getting their first phone or tablet this Christmas. Therefore, it’s important to talk with them about how to stay safe online and what they can do to protect themselves whilst still enjoying their new phone or tablet.

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