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Internet Safety - What every parent needs to know

8th Nov 2017

The internet is amazing. Children can play, learn, create and connect - opening up a whole world of exciting possibilities. But with the digital world changing all the time, how can you make sure your child’s staying safe?

That’s where we come in. Whether you’re an online expert or you’re not sure where to start, our tools and advice will help you keep your child safe.

Talk to someone about online safety

Whether you want to set up parental controls, adjust privacy settings or get advice on social networks, experts from the free O2 & NSPCC helpline are here to help.  0808 800 5002

Gaming can be a great way for young people to relax, socialise with their friends and have fun. Children can play on games consoles, apps or websites, and chat to other players or watch them play through live-streaming.

But there are some dangers. And with so many games available online, it can be hard for parents to know how to keep their child safe.

That's where we can help. Our tips and advice will keep you up-to-date with the most popular online games, help you decide what's appropriate for your child - and help them play safely.

What are the risks of online games?

  • Children may view inappropriate or upsetting content if they play games that aren't suitable for their age. It might be in-game content or produced by other players.
  • Some players can be abusive towards others or try to exlude them from the game. Some players may also hack another user's account or try to steal and destroy their virtual possessions. This can be as upsetting for a young person as if it happened in real life.
  • Children may play with adults they don't know. People of all ages play games. Some adults may exploit this and try to build an emotional connection with a child for the purpose of grooming.
  • Some children may find it hard to stop playing games or find that gaming is getting the way of them

    5 ways to help children play safe

    Always check age ratings but remember they don’t cover everything. It's important to check the game out yourself before letting a young child play it. If you want extra information about the content of a boxed console or computer game, take a look at the Video Standard’s Council’s Additional Consumer Information (ACI)

    Help children understand that people they meet online may not always be who they claim to be. Some games let you mute, block and report other users. Make sure your child knows how to do this if someone in the game upsets them or makes them feel uncomfortable. Childline has online gaming advice to help them do this. Remind your child they can come to you if they’re ever worried.

    Remind your child not to give out any personal information, photos or videos to anyone online, even if they know them. If your child plays games with people they don’t know, remind them not to take the conversation off the game, onto other social networks or into a private chat.

    Turn on parental controls on gaming consoles to help prevent children from downloading age inappropriate games or seeing harmful material.

    The Apple App Store lets you turn off in-app purchases on iPads and iPhones. And The Apple App Store and Google Play let you create a pin code that must be entered before you buy.

    You can also turn on privacy settings on some games to control what other users can see about you and stop strangers from contacting you. Contact the O2 & NSPCC Online Safety Helpline for free on 0808 800 5002 for advice on how to do this.

    Have regular conversations with your child about staying safe online. Agree what games are suitable for them to play and help them understand why others are inappropriate. Talk to them about the types of games they may be watching on game streaming sites.

    Remind them they should tell a trusted adult, like a teacher or parent, if they see or hear something that upsets them when gaming. And they can talk to Childline for free 24 hours a day if they're ever worried.