How to keep your kids safe online during the coronavirus lockdown

2 February 2021

Worried about how to keep your kids safe online during lockdown? It’s a tough time for everyone right now, but especially parents and children. With continued restrictions across the UK, there’s renewed pressure on families as they spend more time together, with fewer avenues of support available if they need a hand.

But we can help.

Many parents want to know how to keep their children safe online during the pandemic, so we’re working hard to make sure our services are there when you need them. That’s why our confidential helpline, live chat and messaging service are still open, meaning you can get advice on the steps you can take to keep your children safe, and help if something goes wrong.

During lockdown, children might be spending more time unsupervised or online, but there are plenty of ways you can help to keep your kids safe online during lockdown. Here are our top tips.

How to keep your kids safe online during lockdown

Connect with your child

One of the keys to help you keep your kids safe online during lockdown is to connect with them. Use this time to really get to know your child, and to understand their relationships online and offline.

It is important to keep lines of communication open with your children, and to make sure they know they can come to you with their worries.

Be curious about who is in your child’s online world, in the same way you’re curious about who they spend time with offline. Encourage them to teach you how to use their social media platforms, and have fun: make a funny video, use Snapchat filters and also ask them about any difficulties they have had and how they overcame them.

Help your children to understand their rights and responsibilities online

Talk about what they think is normal online and what to expect from others and themselves.

You can help your children to understand their rights and responsibilities, encouraging them to think about how they can be kind online, and reassuring them that you will be there if they need any help.

“You do need to be really careful…people say you can trust them but you just don’t know that.” A young person who spoke to us about their online experiences

Consider downloading our SMART rules for parents and carers to share with children and each other. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’, but these SMART rules offer some suggestions about ways to communicate positively with your children.

Teach your children to look for ‘red flags’

Let them know that it’s ok to ask for help when they need it. Whilst your children’s knowledge of technology might be better than yours, you do know how to initiate and maintain relationships. You can help your children to develop a healthy suspicion of others and help them understand ‘red flags’, for example, someone who tries to get them to break the law, do things they don’t want to do, or isolate them from their friends and family.

Encourage them to think critically and question what they see online. Talk to them about where they go to get information they trust, talk about fake news, fake followers and scams.

Consider creating a family safety plan, designed to create a safer environment and a support network for everyone in your family.

Know how to report issues online

Ask your children if they know how to report something on social media. If they say yes, get them to show you. If not, then it’s an opportunity to learn together.

You or your child can make a report directly to CEOP if something has happened online that has made them feel unsafe, scared or worried. This might be from someone they know in real life, or someone they have only ever met online.

Learn more about making a report via CEOP or IWF.

Help them develop their emotional intelligence

Share your knowledge and experience of initiating and maintaining relationships. For example, sometimes people seem nice at first and then they turn out to be mean.

Help your child know they have a choice about who they talk to, and that they can change their mind. If things get weird or speaking with someone doesn’t make them feel good, they have a right to distance themselves.

Let them know that they can talk to you.

Promote quality screen time

Lots of people worry about quantity of screen time, but there can be lots of positives about what your child is doing online – keeping in touch with friends and researching homework, for example.

What’s important is promoting quality screen time – the internet has plenty of fun activities and learning opportunities which are hugely beneficial for all ages.

Find information and resources to keep your kids safe online

Our Parents Protect website has plenty of information and resources on how to keep children safe from sexual abuse, including what to do if your child gets into trouble online.

Use our confidential helpline and secure messaging service if you need to speak to someone about your worries about child sexual abuse and preventing it.

Who we help

As a child protection charity, we work to prevent child sexual abuse by making sure adults know what they can do to keep children safe. Through our anonymous and confidential online advice and self-help resources, we can help you:

Call our confidential helpline: 0808 1000 900

We also have a guide for parents worried about a child or young person who has got into trouble online and information if your child is being investigated for getting into trouble online.

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