As parents and educators, you want to help kids be safe, confident explorers of the online world.
The advancements of modern technology are overwhelmingly positive for children and young people, but they do present a new set of challenges. We want to help you navigate these challenges in a way that is right for your family.
Here are some of the ways you can teach your children about digital safety:
Teach them about their digital footprint
Together with your children, search online for yourself or a musician that they love, and talk about what you find. You may want to check the results in advance. Talk about what others can learn about you from these results and how you develop a digital footprint online.
Help minimise social comparison
Make sure that your child knows that what friends share online is just one part of the whole story, and it’s usually the highlights. Remind them that everyone also has boring, sad or embarrassing moments that they don’t share.
Create family rules about what to share
Set clear expectations for your family about what not to share online, such as photos or private info. Practise taking a few photos together and talk about what responsible sharing looks like. For example, encourage your child to think before sharing photos not just of themselves but of others too. Remind them to ask permission if they aren’t sure.
Teach them about oversharing
Brainstorm solutions for oversharing, such as taking down what was shared or fixing privacy settings. If it happens, help keep things in perspective. Some embarrassing moments are serious, but others are just good learning moments.
Family Link helps parents manage their child’s Google Account and Chromebook or Android device so they can set digital ground rules that work for their family.
Family Link empowers you to:
- Keep an eye on screen time
You decide what’s the right amount of screen time for your child. It can depend on whether they’re using their device to read a book, watch videos or play games.
- Manage the apps your kids use
Family Link’s app activity reports will show you which apps your child is using the most. You can set per app time limits, and hide specific apps whenever it’s time to play, study or sleep. There is also a feature to require approval for in-app purchases and new downloads.
- Control access to content
Use your Google Play account to set content restrictions or to find family-friendly content directly. Just look for the family star next to suitable apps and games. Family Link also enables you to blacklist or whitelist specific websites on Chrome. You can also enable SafeSearch via Family Link.
- Limit daily access
You can set daily screen time limits on your child’s device. If you want to give your child extra time without changing the usual limit, just tap the ‘Bonus time’ chip that will appear when your child’s device is locked or about to be locked and follow the instructions.
- Lock your child’s device remotely
You can set a specific time to lock your child’s device, for example at bedtime.
Family Link works best when both parent and child are using Android devices, but you can still control a child’s Android device using an iOS parent device.
YouTube Kids is a specialised video app, and it’s the first Google product built from the ground up with kids and families in mind. The app is tailored towards children, with specially tailored content, parental controls and filtering. Just like the main YouTube site, the content is generated by YouTube creators, but the app uses Google’s powerful systems to try to filter out content that may not be suitable for kids.
As a parent, you can switch on the ‘Approved content only’ setting, which enables you to pre-select channels that you feel are appropriate for your child to view. You can also review what your child has watched, set time limits on their use of the app, and block or flag any unsuitable content.
If you are watching YouTube on your device with your children outside of the self-contained YouTube Kids app, there are still measures you can take to keep them safer. ‘Restricted mode’ is an additional setting which can be enabled on the YouTube website and app. If enabled, it restricts the availability of potentially mature or objectionable content. When enabled, you will also not be able to see comments on any videos you view together.
Other safeguarding options
Even if you don’t have Family Link or YouTube Kids set up, there is still plenty you can do as parents and educators to give your children a safer online experience.
- Check app content ratings, displayed underneath the app’s title
- Consider apps developed with families in mind
- Manage access to websites
The most important thing you can do, however, is to have an open conversation with your children about online safety, and to include them in setting healthy boundaries for the whole family.
Checking in with them regularly, and reviewing the rules from time to time, can help make sure everyone stays on track to become confident and more secure digital citizens.