Tips for making the internet child-friendly

Wednesday, 18 January, 2017

It’s all too easy for children to find themselves on inappropriate websites. Whether they’re harmlessly playing online games on their tablets, sat browsing sites to help them with homework on the family computer, or sat talking to their friends on mobile phones, there’s always a risk when it comes to the internet. But there are steps you can take to ensure they are as safe as possible when it comes to browsing the World Wide Web:

Explain the dangers

This is the first thing you should consider doing. Although we all want our children to stay children for as long as possible and shelter them from the wider world. However once they start using the internet, it is impossible to do so for long.

With this in mind, it’s worth sitting your child/children down and explaining how the internet works and that it can be a dangerous place should they stumble onto the wrong website. However make sure you reiterate that by following the rules and only visiting websites that are appropriate for them, they should be fine.

Enable parental controls

Parental controls will be your best friend. They restrict the web for young children by blocking inadvertent access to inappropriate websites.

Although it can all seem very confusing, it is actually relatively simple. There are a few ways you can enable parental controls; on the computer itself, on the router and on the browser. But one of the easiest ways to set up parental controls is by configuring them on your router. Some routers contain built-in parental controls, so if your router has this feature, how to set them up will usually be explained in the manual, but it is usually done via the router’s web-based configuration pages. If your router doesn’t come with this option, you can use OpenDNS to set up parental controls on any router.

Limit screen time and access

Too much screen activity isn’t good for any of us – let alone active young brains. Setting rules can really help to establish boundaries while ensuring kids don’t spend hours sat surfing the web.

Some parents choose to only let children use the internet at the weekends for an hour or two, while others let them go on daily for a shorter period of time. There’s obviously no right or wrong – do whatever feels right for you and your family.

Keep computers in communal areas

With the adoption of laptops, tablets and of course smartphones, this can be difficult, but keeping computers in a communal area, such as the dining room, allows you to keep an eye on what your child is up to online. If you have a laptop, make sure it’s kept on a desk or table, while set rules for tablets and smartphones that they can only be connected to the internet when they are downstairs.

Have you set any rules for internet browsing for your children?