PARENTS who gave their children smartphones, tablets or games consoles for Christmas are being urged to make online safety a priority.

The advice comes after the NSPCC and mobile network operator O2 found that thousands of parents who have played their online safety quiz were getting questions about parental controls wrong.

Out of 6,512 parents 52 per cent didn’t know that games consoles aren’t covered by a parental filter on the home broadband.

And out of 9,796 parents 47 per cent didn’t realise that if their child accessed the internet while at home through 3G, 4G or 5G then they aren’t subject to the Wi-Fi parental controls.

The children's charity says without parental controls, children are at risk of seeing upsetting or inappropriate content, and can also download or buy apps and games which could be unsuitable.

The NSPCC and O2 joined forces in 2015 with the aim of giving parents the knowledge, skills and confidence to keep their children safe online.

The partnership offers free online resources, including advice for parents on Net Aware: a guide to the social networks, apps and games children use – which features tips on setting up new devices.

It also gives personalised advice through an advice line, which is open five days a week (0808 800 5002).

In addition, parents can book an appointment with an O2 Guru in their local O2 store, even if they aren’t an O2 customer, to get advice on keeping children safe online or setting up parental controls.

Candia Crosfield, Schools Service Manager for the South West and Wales said: “It is vital parents think of the online world in the same way as the real world, and apply the same level of protection to any app or game their child is using. Every parent who has bought an internet-connected device this Christmas should set-up parental controls to help protect their children from online risks. It’s also recommended parents have regular conversations with their children about staying safe online and how to report something that upsets them.”

Top tips from the NSPCC and O2 online resource Net Aware on setting up devices this new year to help keep your child safe:

1. Set it up together

Take the time to set the device up with your child. Chat to them about the different features, thinking about what you both like and dislike and decide together what safety features to use

2. Read the manual

This might seem obvious, but a lot of us forget to read the manual when we get a new device. It can be useful to check the guidance given by the manufacturers. Product information often comes with new devices or can be found online

3. Use parental controls

Parental controls can:

n Block upsetting or inappropriate content

n Limit in-app purchases

n Manage which apps children can download

You can set up parental controls on individual devices and on your home Wi-Fi. We also recommend turning on privacy settings and making sure location sharing is ‘off’ on every device and app or game your child uses.

4. Create a family agreement

Agreeing what you and your child do online is a great way to start talking about online safety. That’s why we’ve created a simple template for you and your child to use. Together you can decide what’s good to do online and what you should look out for.


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