Staying safe online – a guide for parents

Child looking at laptop screen

In this digital age, staying safe online is a priority for anyone who has access to an internet enabled device. It’s particularly critical for parents whose children use iPads, mobile phones and computers to go online.

Technology has provided a plethora of options to educate and entertain children. During the Covid-19 lockdown, for example, many parents were grateful to hand their iPads and mobile phones to their children. These devices provided a welcome distraction so parents could work from home while schools were closed. But these distractions don’t come without risks. Online predators, inappropriate content and malware are just a few of them.

Here we’ll provide a quick guide for parents about staying safe online:


Have a chat

With the best will and parental locks in the world, it’s still possible for children to stumble upon inappropriate content online or be targeted by online predators or bullies.

Make sure you have regular chats with your child about the importance of staying safe online. It’s vital to adopt a cautious but not panicked tone – you want to protect your child, not scare them! 


Use parental locks

The best way to prevent your child from accessing inappropriate content online is to use parental locks. You can set user roles and enable password access to limit the channels and content your child can see. 

Many parents may be reluctant to use parental locks because they’re concerned that they are complicated to set up. But the process is very simple and only takes a few minutes to enable.


Download the latest security software

Children may not recognise malware when they click on it, but it can severely damage your device or even render it unusable. Make sure you download the latest virus protection software to reduce the risk of any harmful malware making its way onto your device.

Also, try to minimise your child’s access to emails and messages to avoid their clicking on any scam emails or harmful links.


Limit screen time

It’s understandable that you may turn to online devices to keep your child busy when you need a rest or have other things to do. But try to use screen time as a complement to exercise and other educational activities. 

Also, remember to limit screen time before bed as it can hamper your child’s sleep.


Be wary of social media

Spending large amounts of time on social media is linked to mental health issues in young people, with an NHS survey reporting issues such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, bullying and negative body image in young people who use social media. 

However, if used moderately, there are some advantages of social media too. Positive benefits for teenagers include an improved sense of community and self-identity. Teach your child about using social media in moderation and suggest alternative activities for when they’re bored.

Hopefully these tips will provide a starting point for staying safe online. 

For more information, visit the Childline website.


About Nip in the Bud

Nip in the Bud® was set up to encourage awareness about mental health disorders in young children. Our films illustrate the behaviours common in different conditions in children, along with explanations and information on how to follow up and get help. 

The films are accompanied by downloadable fact sheets explaining the symptoms to look out for, to spot early signs of distress which may require further monitoring.