Our research shows over 70% of teenagers spend three or more hours a day using technology for leisure – yet 4 in 10 parents (37%) admit they feel ill-equipped to help protect their children online.
We've partnered with Internet Matters, a charity that gives information and advice on the main internet safety issues children may be exposed to, by offering five top tips to help keep kids safe on the internet.
Realising the positive role technology can have in all our lives, we hope the tips will give parents the peace of mind when it comes to their families’ technology usage whilst ensuring everyone can get what they need out of the internet:
1. Be conscious about what they see online
Internet Matters recommends that you encourage your kids to consider and question what they see online – and put everything into a real-life perspective. The reality behind an image may not be what they think!
Nevertheless, it’s important to make sure that your kids don’t stumble onto any potentially harmful website content in the first place. By filtering, blocking and approving sites that their devices have access to, you can make sure that they only see appropriate content – which only 24% of parents currently do.
KidsSafe, part of our HomeSafe service, is an easy to use tool that protects your family’s devices from receiving any potentially harmful website content like suicide, drugs, weapons and pornography.
2. Help them understand the impact of their tech use
Half of teenagers say that technology has provided a solution to their loneliness (making new friends and receiving support, advice and positive comments whilst being online). However, Internet Matters advises that it's important to encourage teens to avoid using social media 'only' as a substitute for real connections.
Take the time to understand how your teenager uses technology – and suggest new ways to foster friendships online if it’s becoming too much.
3. Watch the clock
Internet Matters recommends that parents encourage children to find a healthy balance between screen time and doing activities with friends and family. Some find that using a simple family agreement to set rules on screen time use works for them, but there are other methods out there where you can be assured they won’t sneakily do something else instead of doing their homework.
Apps and other forms of technology can automatically set time limits on certain websites, one of which is our Homework Time. The feature lets you set time limits to sites like gaming platforms and social media sites, so that kids will only be able to distract themselves for so long.
4. Don’t go viral
Just like for all of us, it’s far better if our devices don’t catch a potentially harmful virus. By setting up virus alerts on your devices, you can check and block websites infected with viruses before they even reach your front door – leaving you and your family’s technology protected!
5. Let kids be kids
Internet Matters knows that technology can have a positive impact on combatting loneliness in teenagers, and according to our research, so do parents. 6 in 10 parents (60%) believed that their kids’ use of technology and the internet helped them make friends and improved their social skills.
Understanding the important role the internet can play in teenagers’ lives, Internet Matters recommends that you talk to your children about the relationships they form online – they’re not necessarily as real (or fun) as face-to-face ones.