Make sure your children are tech-ready and tech-safe this Christmas

Vlogging with tablet, playing. Caucasian boy's portrait on dark studio background in neon light. Bea

Make sure you know what your child is going online this Christmas, says the NSPCC - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

As the details of the new Online Harms Bill become clearer, it seems that the years of campaigning by the NSPCC could be coming to fruition – but we still have some way to go.
The Government’s publication of its response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation, follows years of campaigning by the charity to ensure that tech companies have a legal duty of care to protect children from harm on their sites.
Our Wild West Web campaign was launched to make the online world a safer place for children. We called for the Government to appoint a regulator to hold tech companies to account if they failed to stop children from being groomed and abused and exposed to harmful content on their sites.
Now, the Government has announced that Ofcom will be the appointed regulator and it will have the power to impose fines of up to £18million or 10% of the company’s global turnover should tech companies fail in their Duty of Care to children, it seems like the right steps are being taken.
Our policy team is currently working through the Government proposals to scrutinise them against our Six Tests (www.nspcc.org.uk/about-us/news-opinion/2020/six-tests/). How well the proposals meet these tests should become clearer as we move into 2021.
It is so important that children can reap the benefits of spending time online, without being at risk of harm. And, as we approach Christmas, this is something that is at the forefront of our minds. New gadgets are often on the top of Santa’s list this time of year and the NSPCC is urging parents to give him and the elves a helping hand but setting up security settings on all new devices before they’re opened on Christmas morning.
We know this can seem like a daunting process and that’s why the NSPCC and O2 online safety website, Net aware, has seven tips for parents about setting up security on various devices including laptops, tablets, consoles and mobile phones.
To start off, it’s a good idea to get familiar with safety settings on the device before giving it to your child. This is an opportunity for a parent to build their own confidence and understanding so their child knows where to turn if they get stuck.
Setting up parental controls is an easy way to help keep your child stay safe on their new device. Parental controls can help you set up child-friendly browsers; manage screen time; block upsetting or inappropriate content; limit in-app purchases and manage which apps children can download.
Most tech manufacturers have specific pages set up for parents and carers to help them explore the different ways they can keep their child safe online. Apple, Google, Microsoft and Nintendo all have dedicated pages for this purpose. All mobile providers offer free parental controls as standard, so simply contact the provider and ask for adult filters to be turned on.
It’s very important to be mindful about location settings; ensure that location-sharing is switch off on all devices. This can normally be found in device settings.
It may also be a good idea to install age-appropriate apps and games on a child’s device before they even receive it, so that everything is setup and ready when they open it. Many apps and games require account setup before they can be used - this is where the age of the user can be input.
It’s also a good idea to remind the child to seek guidance from a parent or carer before they download any new content. There’s also more tips to consider after the child has received their new device; visit www.net-aware.org.uk/news/new-devices for further advice and next steps, and from everyone at the NSPCC, we wish you a very happy Christmas.

Anna Collishaw-Nikodemus is the NSPCC local campaigns manager


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