Tailor online safety to your child's age

Cyber Security - Has It Clicked?

27 Nov 2015

With computers not only in every home, but in almost every pocket it’s no longer just when your children are out and about that you need to ensure they’re safe.

The internet can be used by criminals to enable them to commit a wide variety of crimes, from fraud to blackmail and sexual offences. It has also been used by bullies to target their victims in their own homes via social media.

As part of the force’s Cyber Security – Has It Clicked? campaign, there is plenty of help and advice available for young people and their parents about how to use the web to access information, socialise and have fun without putting themselves at risk.

However, how to best to protect your children and what advice to give them can vary hugely depending on their age.

Superintendent Phillip Ward said: “I would urge parents to intrusively monitor what their children are doing online and to talk to them about any issues they are concerned about – be that being aware of online sexual predators or those with extremist views looking to radicalise young people.

“Having those conversations and maintaining an open dialogue with children is a vital tool in protecting them from the potential dangers of the online world.”

Here are our top tips covering children aged under to five to young adults.



It is never too early to start thinking about online safety, especially now that almost every phone is linked to the internet.

  • If your children spend time using computers, consider setting a time limit.
  • Set the home page of the family computer or tablet to an appropriate page for its youngest user – Cbeebies for example.
  • Keep handheld devices out of reach and make sure they are password protected.
  • Set parental controls so that little ones are unable to stumble across inappropriate content. You can buy and download software to suit all budgets, with many products available free of charge – including those provided by the big for Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
  • Whatever you end up using, ensure it is switched on and that you regularly update it.
  • If you buy or download games, apps, online TV and films, make sure that you check the age rating before allowing your child to use or view them.
  • If your children are cared for by friends, family or childminders, ensure they know your rules around the use of technology and that they stick to them.
  • If you are using public WiFi, remember it might not include parental controls. This may mean your child could access inappropriate content, or reveal personal information.



  • As with younger children, ensure you have parental controls in place, that they are switched on and up to date.
  • Agree a list of websites your child is allowed to visit.
  • If you buy or download games, apps, online TV and films, make sure that you check the age rating before allowing your child to use or view them.
  • Have frank conversations with them about the kind of personal information they shouldn’t reveal about themselves online, such as their home address or the name of their school.
  • Set limits for the amount of time they can spend online and/or playing games.
  • If they have younger siblings, make sure they understand that content suitable for their age group may not be suitable for their brother or sister.
  • Don’t allow your child to pressure you into letting them view certain online content or use technology that you don’t believe they are ready for. It doesn’t matter what their friends are allowed to do. If you don’t believe they are mature enough yet, don’t let them do it.

AGE 10 TO 12:

  • Set boundaries for your child before they get their first ‘connected device’ whether that’s a mobile, tablet, laptop or games console.
  • Talk to your child about the importance of keeping phones and other devices secure and well hidden, so as to minimise the risk of them being lost or stolen.
  • Have frank conversations about what is appropriate to post online and the fact that once something has been posted it could be out there forever. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t do something offline, don’t do it online. (http://www.humberside.police.uk/news/think-you-post)
  • Bear in mind that applications like Facebook and YouTube have set 13 as the minimum age to hold an account for a reason. Don’t bow to peer pressure.
  • Speak to the parents of your child’s friends. Why not come up with a joint policy on what you will allow them to do online, so no one feels they are missing out.

Having conversations about sexting, the potential risks from online sexual predators and sending explicit pictures can be daunting. Here are some questions you could broach to help you get started:

  • How many people on your friends list do you know in real life?
  • Can you show me how to set up your privacy and security settings?
  • How do you handle it if you get messages from strangers?
  • Do you know anyone who has arranged to meet someone they have only ever spoken to online? What do you think about that?
  • Are there people you know who are mean to each other or other people online or on their phones? What do they say and would you tell me if they were doing it to you?
  • Do you know of anyone who has taken naked or sexy pictures and sent them to other people? What do you think about that?

OVER 13:

  • Put boundaries in place and stick to them. Your child may be growing up, but they still need your wisdom and guidance.
  • It can seem like your child knows more about using technology than you – and it may well be the case. Make sure you keep yourself up to date.
  • Have open conversations with your child about issues around health, body image and sexuality. Ensure that if they have come across inaccurate or dangerous information online you can set the record straight and point them to legitimate and reliable sites to back up what you’re saying.
  • Review your parental control settings in line with their level of maturity. If you are considering turning them off entirely, agree in advance what is acceptable behaviour and make it clear that if the agreement is broken, the controls will be reinstated.
  • Continue the conversations around bullying and posting sexualised images. Keep these conversations going on a regular basis, so your child knows what is acceptable and that they can come to you if they are concerned about themselves or friends.
  • Allow them to have control of a small budget for downloading apps and music. Don’t give access to your payment card or other financial details.
  • Research issues such as copyright and plagiarism, so you can explain what is legal and what could land them in trouble.

More advice on keeping children of all ages safe whilst they’re online 

Check out this video, which covers a number of online issues you may encounter and how to deal with them. 

For all the latest on keeping yourself, your family and your business interests safe online, check out the Cyber Security – Has It Clicked? campaign. You can also follow @humberbeat #HasItClicked? on Twitter or visit the force Facebook page.