Tips for parents

There are several steps you can take to protect your family online and make the internet an enjoyable experience for everyone. The tips below cover everything from setting the ground rules to installing the right software.

Set the ground rules

  • Explain the potential online benefits and dangers to your child.

  • Set up an agreement with your child regarding access to the internet.

  • Limit access to the internet to certain times.

  • Teach your children that there are ways they can deal with disturbing material - they should not respond if someone says something inappropriate, and they should immediately exit any site if they feel uncomfortable or worried by it.

  • Encourage children to report received messages that they feel disturbed or uncomfortable about and not to respond to them.

  • Set house rules about what information your children can give out and where they can go online.

  • Teach children that information on the internet is not always reliable.

  • Discuss the online experience with your child. Ask them to show you sites they like and what they use them for.

Install a software screening programme

There are filtering programmes available, which control access to information on the internet. They have various features including:

  • Preventing access to key words or phrases.

  • Restricting disclosure of personal information.

  • Confining access to specific times and duration.

  • Automatic logging of internet activity.

  • Allowing access to sites approved by parents.

  • Denying access to sites disapproved by parents.

  • Preventing use of credit cards to buy expensive products online.

Check out a list of filtering programmes

Make it a family activity

  • Learn about the world out there. Children are communicating in a diverse range of ways, from chat to IM, and from message boards to blogs. Learn how these work and what tools they offer to protect your child's privacy.

  • Spend time online with your children. Check out good sites together.

  • Help your kids use the internet as an effective research tool - learn about handy homework tips for kids and also good searching ideas.

  • Let your child lead but stay with him/her until you are satisfied that the activity is appropriate.

  • Let the child know that his/her activities will be supervised.

  • From time to time check out the record of accessed sites in your browser log or history folder.

  • Use screening programmes in addition to supervision.

  • Check the duration of internet use, the phone bills, chat groups and on screen materials.

  • Talk to your child about what they are doing online and listen to what they tell you.