Online Safety for Kids

As parents and caregivers, our concern for children’s online safety is paramount. To protect them effectively, we must actively engage with and understand their digital world. Open communication from early years through adolescence can reduce online risks.

Common Online Risks

Depending on your child’s age and internet usage, risks may include:

Excessive Screen Time
One of the primary concerns for caregivers is the amount of time children spend online. Current guidelines recommend specific limits based on age.

• For children under 2 years old, it’s recommended to avoid any screen time other than video chat.
• Between the ages of 2 and 5, limit screen time to no more than 1 hour per day.
• For children and adolescents aged 5 to 17, the recommended limit is no more than 2 hours a day, excluding school-related work.

Online Gaming
Online gaming can become addictive and impact other areas of a child’s life if not monitored.

Cyberbullying, comprising hurtful messages, posts, and images, that are sent directly to the young person or shared online. This can impact young victims mentally and physically.

Child Grooming
Child grooming involves adults posing as peers, establishing trust with minors, and leading to potential sexual abuse. According to e-safety research, 38% of young people chat to strangers online, and while most interactions are harmless, caregivers need to be aware of the risk

Sexting, common among youth, can turn problematic when coerced, shared without consent, or used for control. Both males and females are equally at risk of being victims here. It’s important to note that once an image is sent, it can be lost forever in cyberspace.

Exposure to Online Pornography
Children may inadvertently come across explicit content, affecting their development.

Practical Steps for Caregivers

Open Communication
Engage in online activities with young children and maintain conversations about their online experiences and safety.

Set Boundaries
Establish clear rules on where and when kids can access the internet, favouring communal spaces.

Agree on Rules
Discuss age-appropriate time limits and consequences for device usage. Create agreements together when possible.

Provide Support
Foster a safe environment where children can seek help when facing online threats or issues.

Use Parental Controls
Utilise built-in controls in devices and apps to monitor and restrict online access.

Today, children enjoy the digital world for fun, education, and connection. While it can be enjoyable, parents must remain vigilant, set boundaries, and support their children.

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Article written by Sussan Omar, Parenting Facilitator

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