17 April, 2020
Surviving Families under Covid-19 Lock Down #3
With families spending more time at home everyone wants to be able to keep in contact with their friends and have something to do with their time.
This has resulted in a significant increase in the use of internet enabled devices and activities. While these may come with their own risks, some experts are suggesting that the approaches parents would use in normal circumstances should be reconsidered during these extraordinary times.
This article will provide some information, ideas and links that will help to keep everyone safe online during this time.
Take Time to Talk and Share
Probably the most important approach to help keep children and young people safe online is to talk with them regularly and try to understand about what apps / games they are using. It can be a good idea (and sometimes a lot of fun) to get them to show you how they use these.
You can also explain and reassure them that you will be there to talk to if they see or hear anything that they are not sure about or upsets them.
Using Parental Controls
Children and young people can be fearful of disclosing what happens online for fear of devices being removed.
It might be helpful instead to consider the use of parental controls which restrict what children and young people are able to access on their devices.
Internet Matters have produced a how to guide with useful information on setting parental controls for a large selection of different devices. These controls can include restrictions on the type of content that can be accessed and some also allow for restrictions on time to be imposed. Ensuring that parental controls are set on the router can be a time efficient way to do this.
It is recommend that these controls are implemented in agreement and consultation with young people to avoid unnecessary conflict.
Talking about these concerns openly as a family is one way to do this. Organising a family meeting can provide a space to talk about these issues - check out our article on running a family meeting HERE>
Share your concerns and, if you are considering time restrictions, using a family routine could help with this - check out our article on using a family schedule HERE>.
Overall, while parental controls can help, they are no substitute for spending time together on developing positive relationships. Positive relationships take time and are built on trust and understanding rather than blame.
Further Information and Support
There are many sites that offer support to parents and carers in helping their children keep safe and navigate the digital world. Here's just a few we've picked for you:
- Thinkyouknow from the National Crime Agency provides resources and advice for parents & carers, children & young people and professionals. They are also producing Family Activity Packs for families to use during Covid-19 lock down
- Common Sense Media is a great resource for families to check out reviews (from other parents/carers and young people) and guidance on a wide range of online apps, sites and games as well as TV, films, books and podcasts
- The Safer Internet Day website provides information and resources (many produced by children and young people) in a wide range of different European languages
- Parent info provides help and advice for families in a digital world
- Net Aware is another useful site offering reviews, tips and safety advice from the NSPCC and O2