How do I help my child stay safe on games and apps?

It’s natural to worry about the dangers of games and apps. But you can help your child learn to keep themselves safe.  

a teenager types on a laptop which they have balanced on a stripey cushion

Take an interest

Take some time to learn what they enjoy. Talk to them about their favourite websites, videos, and their online friends. This will keep communication open between you and your child. It will also help you to understand more about how appropriate different games or apps are.

Young Minds has advice on how young people would like parents to talk to them about gaming.  

Help your child learn

Teach your child why they should avoid giving out personal information. Details about their life can give away more than they might realise. This includes their name, address, and telephone number. But it can also include where they go to school or images of them in uniform. 

Check what’s appropriate

Make sure that your child is playing age-appropriate games. Learn more by reading about video games age restrictions. 

Use parental controls

All modern video game consoles, smartphones and tablets provide tools for parents and carers. Games often have parental control options built in.   

You can control how children interact with other people, what they spend money on and what content they can access. If you can, set these up with your child and agree how much time they’re allowed to spend playing.

Work with your child to agree a list of websites they can visit. Most social media channels have an age limit of 13. You can find guidance for the most popular websites and apps on Internet Matters 

Make space for in-person time

Set some boundaries. Establish time limits for activities such as using the internet and gaming. Set aside time for ‘unplugged’ family time. 

Consider the impact of social media

Social media apps can affect self-esteem. It can help to take some time with your child or teenager to think about when social media is a helpful or hurtful influence. Introduce these ideas by chatting together. 

Be open

Let your child know that they can tell you about anything that happens on the internet or in their games. Try to listen without judgment or anger. With older children, explain your worries so they can see the reasoning behind any rules you set.   

Talk to them about issues such as cyberbullying and online grooming. This will help them know how to recognise the risks and how to cope if anything happens.   

If your child is older, read more about on helping teenagers stay safe online 

If you feel your child is at risk

If you’re worried your child is being groomed online or inappropriate communication is taking place, you can:  

  • Contact CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection).  
  • Call the non-emergency police line 101. 
  • Speak to your child’s school. 
  • Take steps to protect your child, such as limiting app access.  

    Other services that can help include the NSPCCInternet Matters and Family Lives. 

    Go back

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