Online Safety For Children Under 5
We live in a truly digital world. Nowadays, our children are becoming more adept at using technology at a younger age, and it is helping to transform how they learn and engage with the world around us. This is a fantastic opportunity that sets the path for an exciting future. However, it is not without its challenges, and online safety for children has never been more important.
No matter whether it is playing games or watching videos, children under five are spending an increasing amount of time online. While this is a great tool in helping to boost their communication and learning, it is not without its risks. Making sure your child is safe while online is vital, and they are never too young to start learning about online safety.
What does internet safety matter for under 5s?
Every parent puts in safety measures to keep their child safe. Whether it is adding a baby gate to your stairs or adding sun protection to their skin when they go outside, you want to protect them as much as possible. This should be the same in the digital world, too, particularly now that these devices are becoming an increasingly common part of a child’s life.
From a young age, children are exposed to technology. Whether it’s having the TV on while being a baby, seeing their parents use their smartphones, or chatting with grandparents via a video call, many children are using devices before they can walk or talk.
With a recent survey revealing that 81% of children under five use the internet, online safety for children is essential. The more time they spend online, the higher the risk of being exposed to dangerous content or individuals.
That is why teaching them to understand the dangers and increasing their digital intelligence will help to keep them safe.
What are the risks for children?
Browsing online can help children to better understand the world around them, giving them access to videos and content from across the globe at a few clicks of a button. However, it also means they could be exposed to potentially harmful content. The main risks they could face include:
Contact with strangers
Games, videos and websites often have features that allow users to talk and engage with each other. This could mean that children will come into contact with people they do not know. Cybercriminals might also use them to gain access to your devices to steal personal data.
Cyberbullying is one of the biggest online issues facing children, and one in five have experienced some form of online harassment. This threatening and intimidating behaviour can be incredibly worrying for young children, so it is important they understand how to be safe.
The third most common type of risk when it comes to online safety for children is coming across harmful content. This could be videos or shows that are not suitable for their age or potentially violent or pornographic content.
Top tips to boost online safety for children
When it comes to protecting children online, there is a range of tips that parents can utilise. Some of the most effective include:
Lead by example
Children learn by example, and they often copy what they see their parents do. That is why one of the first tips is to ensure you are a model of good behaviour. Try to reduce how often you use devices around your child, as they will be less likely to feel compelled to use them themselves.
Set clear boundaries
You should also ensure that you are setting clear boundaries for your child. This should be rules on how long they can browse online, the games they can play, and what websites or apps they can use. While you want to be firm with these rules, it is important that they understand why they are in place and that they can ask for help anytime they are unsure.
Choose good content
While children have a naturally inquisitive nature, they are also led by their parents. That is why you should make sure that you are providing them with the ability to engage with high-quality and age-appropriate content.
A good rule of thumb is asking yourself whether the content is helping to expand their knowledge, whether it reflects their interests, or whether it lets them explore the world.
While letting your child play on a tablet or smartphone can help to keep them occupied, you should not let them do so alone. Co-viewing and guiding them as you play together is a great way to help them think critically while keeping them safe. This will also ensure that they are not engaging with anyone online who they shouldn’t be.
Be aware of addictive games
When it comes to online safety for children, you should also be aware of the dangers of gaming addiction. Many online games are designed to be as absorbing as possible, which can make it difficult for children to put them down. That is why you should only let them play these games in short bursts rather than extended periods.
If you are looking to keep your child safe while they’re online, there is a host of supporting advice out there. The government have put together a booklet for parents and early childhood educators, while there is also a great online safety picture book and song to help you teach your loved one. You can also take part in Safer Internet Day 2022 to learn more about keeping your child safe.
Keeping children safe at Journey
Here at Journey, we know how important online safety is. That is why we strive to build a thriving community and learning environments that teach children how to safely browse online. Nowadays, our digital footprint begins at an increasingly younger age, so these are essential skills that your child will need as they grow.