Recent studies have shown that by the age of 11 over 90% of children in the UK have their own smartphone. With this comes access to a whole world of information and entertainment but there are also the risks posed by malicious users, harmful content and addictive social apps. Enabling our children to use their phones safely is now a vital part of modern parenting and fortunately there are lots of things that you can do to help keep them safe online.
Talking to your child openly and honestly is one of the best ways to help them stay safe. This means creating an environment where they feel comfortable sharing with you what they watch, who they engage with and how it makes them feel. If they’re able to do this without fear of judgement or punishment it means they’re more likely to tell you about any issues such as bullying or harassment.
Being part of a healthy online community can be a really positive thing and lots of games, apps and websites have ways for users to get together and chat. However, these can also be used by malicious users who want to bully and manipulate others. Making your child aware of the warning signs of this type of behaviour can stop them falling victim to it or at least let them identify it and tell you if it happens.
Look for ways to encourage healthy screentime not only throughout the day but per app. Excessive social media scrolling can be detrimental to your child’s developing mind but rather than banning the use of these apps outright, explain to them why it’s better to only spend a limited time on them. Reinforce this by setting a good example with your own screen habits.