What is age appropriate for my child?

Children use the internet in different way depending on their age, interests and personality, so unfortunately there is no one rule or piece of advice that will suit all children.

There are however some helpful checklists that you may find useful to use as a guide. Internet Matters has produced a set of guides for parents and carers based on children’s ages.

It is for each parent or carer to decide when their child is ready to use an internet enabled device but here are some of our top tips on how to help children explore the internet safely:

  • Explore together – regardless of what age you allow your child to start exploring the internet, we recommend that you do so together by showing them fun and educational websites that you feel are appropriate.
  • Use the internet in the same room – when a child first starts going online, encourage them to use devices in the same room as you so that you can keep an eye on what they’re doing.
  • Activate parental controls – As you child starts to become more independent in their use of the internet, activating parental controls on your home broadband, mobile networks and internet enabled devices is an effective way of protecting what children see online.
  • Use airplane mode – did you also know that on most phone and tablets you can set them to airplane mode, which means they can’t make any unapproved purchases or interact with anyone online without your knowledge.
  • Look at age ratings – all games, apps, films and social networking sites come with age ratings. These are a really good guide as to whether they’re suitable for your child’s use.
  • Think about a family contract – you may wish to consider drawing up a family contract on internet use in your family. This can include when, where, for how long and for what purposes your child can use internet enabled devices – do remember to include yourself in this contract too. Your child may want to ask that you don’t look at your phone during mealtimes for example, By including them in drawing up this contract they are more likely to stick to it.