How to protect your children from inappropriate content

Good parenting involves protecting loved ones from the darker aspects of the internet. So here’s some advice on how to stop your kids encountering offensive content online and blocking inappropriate websites and material from appearing on their devices.

What is inappropriate online content?

What we’re addressing here is any information, imagery or video that is adult in nature and could cause a young person to act unlawfully or have feelings of humiliation, distress or confusion. Offensive content can come in many forms across many platforms and, unfortunately, young people are susceptible to it 24 hours a day. For such an important issue, we’ll explore some of the ways parents can take control and help the situation.

What kind of inappropriate online content might my child be exposed to?

These are just some of the kinds of content that parents worry about appearing on their children’s smartphones or web browsers.

  • Pornographic or overtly sexual content.
  • Content that includes swearing and profanity.
  • Websites that promote terrorism, racism, abuse, sexism, vandalism, eating disorders, violence, hate speech and suicide.
  • Gambling sites.
  • Unmoderated chatrooms.
  • Images, videos or games that depict casual violence and brutality.

How can I protect my child from inappropriate online content at home?

It’s really important to build a rapport with your child so that if they do encounter something that threatens their online safety or upsets them, they feel comfortable coming to you and discussing it without fearing any negative consequences or judgement.

Internet service providers have an obligation to protect families from inappropriate online content, too. At Virgin Media, we created WebSafe for our customers: a tool that allows the bill payer to restrict internet access in their home based on particular sites or times of the day.

How to block inappropriate websites on a phone?

Stopping the rot is the first step in tackling cyberbullying or any offensive online behaviour. It’s therefore useful for parents to know exactly how to block inappropriate material on all their child’s favourite online platforms. If you recognise an indiscretion, you can rectify and report it immediately. Having an open conversation with your kids is also considered extremely helpful here.

Then, hopefully, you would be able to discuss all the risks involved and come to a quick understanding of what exposure they might have had to harmful content. Naturally, this is a difficult topic to bring up and handle for any parent. And when you’ve had those conversations, here’s some practical advice on blocking, for various platforms. Let’s start with the most popular and work down.

Shielding your children from upsetting coronavirus content online

A more recent example of the kind of content that might upset young children comes from coverage and material around the coronavirus pandemic. Such material might not be intended to harm, indeed it might be on public information websites or major news sites. Images of victims, perhaps in intensive care units, could concern or upset children, especially if they know a family member has had the virus. Naturally, it is then down to a parent to provide context and keep an eye on what their child is watching. It has been a challenge for all parents to explain what the pandemic means and to find a way to talk about issues like death, or why lockdowns were needed. Staying calm and having open discussions around Covid-19 issues would seem to be the way and, of course, the pandemic itself has led to online viewing being a daily issues for parents anyway.

You can find out more about internet safety and gain that extra peace of mind from Internet Matters.

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