Kids across the UK are staying at home during the lockdown, with many likely spending more time on their personal or parents’ internet connected devices. Increasing screen time, whether as a result of digital learning or entertainment, could be challenging for parents as they seek to find balance between establishing a healthy screen time routine and keeping an eye on what their kids are doing online, warns cybersecurity firm Norton.
With 68% of Brits proactively looking for better ways to protect themselves online, according to data from the new NortonLifeLock Cyber Safety Insights Report, Steve Wilson, UK & Ireland director at NortonLifeLock, offers up his tips for keeping children safe online during the lockdown.
“Modern parenting can get tough, even at the best of times. With children across the UK staying at home during the lockdown, parents are confronting a new challenge in the face of increasing screen times where it’s no small task to balance between taking control over the family’s online privacy and keeping everyone safe, as well as managing children’s digital learning activities and keeping an eye on what they are doing for leisure online,” said Wilson.
“On top of all the usual chores like getting children to eat their greens, do their homework and go to bed on time, there is an extra layer of complexity created by the much needed access to smart devices that can help both educate and entertain children while they are temporarily out of school or nursery.
“And while these unprecedented times put us in uncharted territory for many things, parenting included, it’s important to stick to established house rules for internet and device usage. If needed, these should be revised to make room for more learning activities but not at the expense of safety. Parents should continue encouraging an open dialogue about online experiences and asking for children to use devices in communal spaces. Most importantly – parents should lead by example as children are likely to imitate adults’ behaviour, so if you agree to no devices during dinner or in bed – make sure to demonstrate the rules apply to everyone not just the little ones.”
Here are NortonLifeLocks’ top tips for parents to keep their children safe online:
- Establish house rules and guidelines: these can include setting limits to screen time, the type of content a child accesses online through their mobiles and other devices or the appropriate tone of language to use online. These rules should vary depending on your children’s age, maturity and understanding of the risks they could face online.
- Encourage your children to go online in communal spaces: it’s about striking a balance where they don’t feel that you are constantly looking over their shoulder and don’t feel like they need to hide to go online. It will help put your mind at ease about what they are doing, and they’ll know they can come to you if they are confused, frightened or concerned.
- Encourage and maintain an open and ongoing dialogue with your children: talk about mobile use and experiences online. Maintain an open conversation with your children.
- Encourage kids to think before they click: whether they’re looking at online video sites, receiving an unknown link in an email or even browsing the web, remind your child not to click on links which may take them to dangerous or inappropriate sites. Clicking unknown links is a common way people get viruses or reveal private and valuable information about themselves.
- Look out for harmful content: from websites to apps, games and online communities, your kids have access to a lot of content that can affect them both positively and negatively. Using smart family security and parental control features, as well as the built-in security settings in your browsers, can help the whole family stay safe
- Discuss the risks of posting and sharing private information: encourage your children to think about the videos, photographs and information they share through mobiles, especially on social media.
- Be a good role model: Children are likely to imitate their parents’ and adult’s behaviour, so lead by example.
- Use a robust and trusted security software solution like Norton 360. Until 31st May, you can take advantage of 6 months free use of Norton Family, which can help parents create a safe online experience for their kids’ online by managing restricted sites access, browsing history preview and setting limits screen time.
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