NSPCC tips for helping your child manage safe time online - Helen Westerman

In this week’s column, the NCPCC's Helen Westerman explores how you can help best support your children to make the most of their time online.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 4:45 pm
Understanding what your child likes is a good first step in helping to keep them safe online, says Helen Westerman. Picture: Tetiana Soares/Adobestock

The internet is a great resource, it is invaluable in helping them keep up with their learning and to stay connected with their friends and family for instance. This year has certainly shown that.

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Understanding what your child likes to do online is not only a good first step in helping to keep them safe online but can also be useful in helping them manage how they spend time on their favourite device.

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There’s no set amount of time your child should or shouldn’t spend online and it’s important to do what’s right for your family.

But it is also worth bearing in mind that helping your child to experience a range of different activities online will, in turn, help them develop new skills and good online habits as they get older.

We know children like to use apps and games to watch, create, connect, play and learn, so on our Net Aware website, co-created with O2, we have put together some questions to help you talk about each of these different category types with your own children.

By categorising in this way, it will help provide you with an overview of how they like to spend their time online and get to know some of the apps, sites and games they use a little better.

Once you have an built up understanding of the categories, our Net Aware site has lots of great advice in talking with your child about concerns for each category.

There’s one piece of advice that will not only help keep your child safe online but, I have found, is also actually rather fun.

If your child mentions a specific app or game, why not use this opportunity to ask them to give you a demo of how it works?

Crucially, this will not only give you a chance to ask them questions about how and why they use it, it will also be a chance to talk about privacy settings and safety tools.

Once you’ve talked through what they like to do online, why not use our Family Agreement template to create some online rules together?

Make sure to use the insight you’ve gathered to help shape these agreements, keep them updated as your family life changes and stick them somewhere the whole family can see them too.

And remember you can always visit www.net-aware.org.uk to find out more information about your child’s wider online world and the most popular apps, sites and games they’re using at the moment.