Each week, we'll share tips and advice on a unique topic, with this particular article focusing on parental controls.
A great way to tackle the problem of cyberbullying is to moderate and monitor your child’s internet activity. Nowadays, bullying can occur on a variety of digital platforms, from social media networks to instant messaging apps, and even during online gaming. After discovering that a child has been involved in a cyberbullying incident, parents can often be tempted to completely ban devices and cut all access to the internet.
However, it is vital that we do not isolate young people from the digital world, as it can bring many benefits to their education and development. Instead, set up parental controls on your home broadband, mobile networks and individual devices. To help you achieve this, we’ve rounded up a few tips on how to use these controls to their full potential, protecting your child from the effects of cyberbullying.
Set up parental controls on your broadband
Parental controls can be used to block access to certain websites that may contain inappropriate content, and this can also drastically reduce the risk of cyberbullying. Setting up filters via your broadband provider may seem difficult or time-consuming for many busy parents, but it’s actually very simple if you have the right information.
KCOM Parental Controls are free and easy to apply. There are settings for ages 1+, 7+, 12+ and 16+, meaning that you can adjust the filters to your family’s needs. KCOM also allows you to choose individual websites that you would like to block, making it very easy to control what your child sees and who they interact with. It’s so simple to set up too: just visit your control panel and achieve peace of mind that your children are protected.
Set up parental controls on their mobile network
Remember, regardless of which websites you block on your home Wi-Fi, children may still have access to them via their mobile networks or a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Encourage your kids to use family-friendly hotspots when they’re out and about by having a chat about online safety – an open and honest dialogue is often the key to getting them to understand the dangers. Not-for-profit organisation Internet Matters has a step-by-step how-to guide on adding parental controls to specific mobile networks, including EE, O2 and Vodafone. Again, these parental controls block certain websites, preventing the child from accessing unsuitable content.
Set up the device settings
Many cyberbullying attacks occur on a young person’s mobile device, with the average child aged 12-15 sending almost 140 texts per week. Abusive messages via certain messaging apps can be avoided by only allowing your child to access age-appropriate mobile applications. Parental controls can be set up on individual devices like smartphones and tablets, and even laptops and games consoles. Your child can also block specific users from contacting them, preventing the risk of being the victim of a cyberbullying attack.
Talk about staying safe
These parental controls are not 100% foolproof and it is important to have a two-way discussion with your child about the dangers surrounding the internet and online activity. Many young people nowadays are technology savvy and will know ways of bypassing filters that parents have applied, so it is vital that you explain to your children why they need to remain in place.
In the event that cyberbullying is already occurring, please read our article on the top 10 anti bullying apps which help with everything from future prevention to recovery. We also recommend taking a screenshot of the offending messages before blocking the sender's number or social media accounts, as visual proof may be required if the situation continues.
Finally, if you know a parent, child or teacher that could benefit from this information, please share it with them. Together we can keep children safe and happy at home and school.