To help children enjoy the internet safely, we've produced a simple set of rules to follow: Stop, Think, Stay Safe. Share them with your children to help them recognise and reduce the risks they might face online.
Stop - Don't give out any personal details
You wouldn't stand on the street handing out leaflets all about yourself. So don't give out personal information on the internet such as:
- your full or real name
- your address
- your mobile or home phone number
- your school's name or address
- personal details of friends and family
- your favourite places
- your photo
When you're signing up for any online accounts - email, chat or on a web site - use a nickname.
Think - Things aren't always what they seem
You've probably heard stories about people on the internet pretending to be someone else so that they can make friends with young people. Not everyone on the internet has bad intentions, but some do.
- Is someone asking lots of questions about yourself?
- If so, why do they need to know those things?
- Do they get annoyed when you don't answer?
- Why are they asking you to talk in private?
Remember, people who are interested in tricking you can be very smart. They know all the ways to get your trust. Be extra careful with anyone asking you lots of questions about yourself.
Stay safe - Spread the word
Tell your mum, dad and friends what you've seen and done on the internet. Not just any bad stuff, but the good things too.
Your parents will feel a lot more relaxed if you tell them what you're up to. If you don't feel comfortable telling your mum or dad, tell an adult you trust - like your aunt, your teacher or your mate's mum.
There's lots of help on offer
- Get general advice about keeping your children safe online from internetmatters.org >
- Check out the guidance from The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre for different age groups at www.thinkuknow.co.uk >
- Get top tips on keeping your child safe on social media from Teenagers and social media >
- Get some do's and don'ts on keeping your child safe online from Safe surfing for kids >
More top tips
There's no official advice on this but various experts have suggested that two hours a day of TV or computer use should be the maximum, especially for children under 11 years old.
Many sleep experts recommend not using the computer in the hour before sleeping.
One simple way to keep track of what children are doing online is to put the computer in a public part of your home, like the kitchen or living room. You'll be used to keeping tabs on your children from the corner of your eye - and there's no reason this can't work when they're online.
Don't forget that the internet can also be accessed through mobiles and devices like Apple's iTouch, so be aware of the different web devices your children use.
If you're worried your children are spending too much time online, you can try limiting how much time they're allowed to spend on the internet, or give them set times in the week when they can go online.
Be clear with your children about what you expect them to do and not do online, so they know from the outset what the rules are. You can also ask them to show you the kinds of things they spend their time doing online.
If you've already installed parental control software on all your computers at home, then make sure it's configured correctly. As children mature, their needs will change so it's well worth reviewing the settings at regular intervals. Parental control software can help you set safe boundaries for your children.