O2 Guru Bytes - Top tips for keeping your family safe online
In today's hyper-connected world, it's never been more important for parents to keep their tech-savvy kids safe online. Most parents agree that the benefits of the internet outweigh the potential risks, but it's important to set some guidelines to keep the family connected but away from harm. O2 Gurus asked Mumsnetters for their top tips on keeping their families happy and safe online, and here's what they told us.
1. Talk, talk and talk some more
Almost all the Mumsnetters highlighted how important it is that you're open and honest with your family about the potential dangers online. "Open and honest discussion gives me the best chance of keeping them safe," said one mum, while another added "We have frank discussions on e-safety and cyber-bullying and I know their school covered it all really well too." Make sure your children feel comfortable talking to you about anything upsetting they may have stumbled across online and are aware that people may not always be as they seem.
2. Encourage internet access in shared rooms
Depending on the age of your children, it is worth considering keeping use of tablets, computers and smartphones to the living room and kitchen. Many Mumsnetters recommend keeping internet access out of bedrooms (and bathrooms!) so that you can keep a subtle eye on your kids' web habits without hovering over their shoulders. Plus, there's the added bonus of encouraging good sleeping habits: "Phones are switched off over night so they go to sleep and are not on snapchat/whatsapp to their friends all night," one Mumsnetter explained.
3. Enable safe browsing and parental controls
This is a bit of a no-brainer - nearly all our Mumsnetters agreed that putting parental controls in place is essential. Every internet browser will have a safe setting that will stop any untoward content coming up in searches, and all internet providers are now required to turn on content filters by default, to stop any adult content reaching your devices. If you're not sure how to go about checking these are all set up, the O2 Gurus can help you out.
4. Time limits
Without getting too strict about it, it's worth putting some time limits in place so that the family doesn't spend too much time staring blankly at screens. Mumsnetters are pretty hot on this too, although they don’t all set hard and fast rules. "We don't really have any set time limits on the devices but I do encourage him to turn it off after 30 mins or so," one mum explains, while some insist that time on the tablet is matched by time playing outdoors. Most Mumsnetters ban mobiles and tablets at the dinner table, and another adds that it's important to be flexible: "I will consider all reasonable requests if asked nicely!".
5. Social networking
With so many horror stories in the media about people using social networks inappropriately, it's understandable if you're wary about letting your family loose on them. But there are a lot of social benefits to sites like Facebook and Instagram too; the Mumsnetters recommend insisting on full access to any social network accounts, so you can check your child’s profile if you feel you need to. Some Mumsnetters recommend signing up yourself - "Both my husband and I are on our children’s Facebooks," said one. "But had to promise not to comment!".
So there you have it - five ways to keep your children safe and healthy while still enjoying all amazing benefits that technology has to offer. As your children get older, it will gradually be appropriate to give them more freedom online - but it’s never too early to teach them safe web habits.
Join our Gurus in store to discover how you can make an app or learn more about keeping your family safe online. Our Guru Bytes workshops are free and open to everyone. To find workshops in your area, and to book a slot, visit our events page.