How to keep the kids safe online with those techy Christmas gifts

CHILDREN across the country will unwrap a vast range of electronic gifts this Christmas – raising a fresh wave of safety concerns for parents.

Ghislaine Bombusa, head of digital for Internet Matters, a non-profit organisation set up by the UK’s leading internet service providers to improve children’s safety online, has some tips to help them.

Smartphones and tablets

“If you’re going to give any device, try to set it up before you wrap it up,” Ms Bombusa advises.

For smartphones, make use of app store settings so young people can only download apps suitable for them.

Both iOS and Android offer a range of restrictions, which can lock down purchases and prevent explicit content.

YouTube can play host to some content more appropriate for adults. Enabling the website’s restricted mode helps to prevent children from accessing these videos.

“The other thing you can possibly do is download some of the apps that you want them to use, so they’re ready to go on the phone as you hand it to them,” Ms Bombusa said.

It is also advised to go through the device and switch off location services, as children may be unintentionally sharing their location on social media.

Gaming consoles

Gaming consoles have parental controls, which allow parents to limit what children can do on devices such as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Screen time settings allow grown-ups to decide specific times a child is allowed to play on their console and how long for. Similar to smartphones, parents can also set spending limits to restrict how much children buy in the game stores.


If a child is getting a laptop this Christmas, it’s advised to set up a child account while an adult remains administrator, meaning parents have control over what they can access.

Internet service providers offer broadband protection directly from the router, meaning inappropriate content and malware-infected websites are automatically filtered out as an added safety net.

Smart speakers

Smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home include protections against the ability to buy products, and that can block inappropriate content, such as music with expletives.

Many of these controls can be found within the app used to set up the device or from the device maker’s website.

Most importantly, Internet Matters recommends having regular conversations with your children about how they use their gadgets.

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