Safer Internet Day 2021: Expert tips to help keep children safe online

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Safer Internet Day 2021: Expert tips to help keep children safe online

With the introduction of homeschooling and stay at home orders, children have been spending more time than ever online over the past year.

Using the internet has become a necessity for most families, with Central Statistics Office data revealing 97% of students now use the internet every day, so keeping children safe online is a huge priority.

“The internet has become a bigger part of our lives in the past year than ever and children are no exception. Children are being encouraged to use the internet in so many new ways like to keep in contact with loved ones, play with friends and complete their schooling," commented Eoin Clarke, Managing Director of Switcher.ie.

“A stable internet connection is of course a must to get the most out of these online experiences, however, so is a solid understanding of internet safety. To give you peace of mind, most broadband providers allow you to install parental controls at a household level. Some social media sites also have privacy settings site-wide, so be sure to check these too before letting your child use them."

Today, February 9, is Safer Internet Day and Switcher.ie have shared some top tips to help keep children safe online:

Talk to your child about online safety: Discuss how to safely use the internet from a young age and make sure they feel comfortable speaking to you if they’re unsure about something they see online.

Be aware of the risks: Knowing the potential risks children could face online makes it easier to be vigilant looking out for them. Know what platforms your child uses and watch out for the signs of cyberbullying.

Set boundaries: Let your children know from the get-go what they can and can’t do on the internet. Agree on when they can access the internet, how long for and what devices they can use. 

Set up parental controls: These ready-made boundaries put parents in control of what children can see online. They can be set up through your internet provider or at device level and block certain websites and filter out inappropriate content. 

Get social media savvy: Each social media account will have it’s own privacy settings as well as tips for parents on the best ways to keep safe while using the apps. Check them out before you let children have their own account. 

Get secure: Install antivirus software on each device being used to minimise the risk of cyber attack or scams. You can get free versions of this, but the paid versions often come with greater protection. 

Talk about data security: Educate your child to not share personal details, photos or information online without checking first. Teach them not to open emails or attachments from unknown sources and not to click on links to unknown websites. 

Use two-factor authentication: Adding 2FA adds extra security to your accounts but can also stop children from signing into services that are blocked to them and purchasing something without your permission. 

Lead by example: Limiting the time you spend online can help reinforce the rules you are setting for your children. 

“There are a huge amount of resources available to help you educate you and your child on online safety," added Mr Clarke.

"By brushing up on your tech know how you could help to pass on that knowledge to your children and become more comfortable talking about internet safety."

For more information on how to keep children safe online, see the full guide here.