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Online controls for children of all ages

Internet Matters, a not-for-profit organisation, shares its strategies to ensure a safe and happy digital experience for children of all ages – from toddlers to teens

online controls children all ages

Pre-schoolers (0-5)

A recent survey showed that two thirds of children between one and three years old know how to use a tablet. As the first device your child uses is likely to be yours, it’s crucial that you make sure they don’t accidentally stumble across things they shouldn’t.

The simplest way is to use parental controls. There will be settings you can choose on your home broadband, your phone and your tablet that let you control the type of content your children can access online. You can also ensure they don’t access inappropriate content stored on your device or make in-app purchases when playing games.

online controls children all ages

Young children (6-10)

At this age your child may use the internet without supervision – for example, when doing homework. So it’s a good time to set rules about their online use.

Child-friendly search engines such as Swiggle, Kids Search and Kiddle make it less likely they will stumble across inappropriate content, but tools alone can’t guarantee they won’t see things they shouldn’t. Talk to your child about what they see online and ask them about their concerns.

Most apps have age restrictions, and you should make sure that your child only downloads age-appropriate ones.

online controls children all ages

Pre-teens (11-12)

We encourage parents to think carefully about allowing your child on social media. If you do decide to, make sure they reveal no personal information and choose privacy settings so they only share with family and friends they know offline. A strong password is also essential.

If your child has a smartphone, make sure they know about the risks of sharing images, and encourage them to use Friendly WiFi when away from the home. It’s free to use in lots of public spaces and can’t be used to access explicit content.

online controls children all ages

Teens (13+)

It’s important you trust your child to make smart choices online with your help and guidance.

You should adjust your parental controls depending on your teenager’s maturity. Parental controls exist so parents can filter out all offensive content, but when you feel that your child is old enough, and after discussing it with them, you may decide to turn them off.

Internet Matters is a not-for-profit organisation supported by BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, the BBC and Google. It offers step-by-step guides and advice about how to keep children safe online. For more, visit

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