Set some boundaries for your child before they get their first ‘connected device’ (mobile, tablet, laptop or games console). Once they have it, it can be more difficult to change the way they use it or the settings.
Tell your child that it’s very important to keep phones and other devices secure and well hidden when they’re not at home, to minimise the risk of theft or loss.
Discuss with your child what is safe and appropriate to post and share online. Written comments, photos and videos all form part of their ‘digital footprint’ and could be seen by anyone and available on the internet forever, even if it is subsequently deleted.
Talk to your child about the kind of content they see online. They might be looking for information about their changing bodies and exploring relationships. They also need to understand the importance of not sending other people - whoever they are - pictures of themselves naked.
Remember that services like Facebook and YouTube have a minimum age limit of 13 for a reason. Don’t bow to pressure, talk to other parents and their school to make sure everyone is in agreement.
Explain to your child that being online doesn’t give them anonymity or protection, and that they shouldn’t do anything online that they wouldn’t do face-to-face.
Consider setting up parental controls/filters. If you're not sure how to do this, ask advice from a computer-savvy friend or professional.
Questions to ask your kids
Do you really know everybody on your ‘friends’ list?
Do you know how to use and set privacy and security settings?
Can you show me how?
Do you ever get messages from strangers? If so, how do you handle them?
Do you know anyone who has made plans to meet someone offline that they’ve only ever spoken to online?
Are people in your group of friends ever mean to each other, or to other people, online or on phones? If so, what do they say?
Has anyone ever been mean to you? Would you tell me about it if they were?
Has anyone at your school, or anyone else you know, taken naked or sexy photos and sent them to other people, or received photos like that?