Computers and your child

A computer can open your home to a world of information, communication and entertainment, but there are some risks. You can educate your children about how to stay safe online, and set some boundaries for how they use computers and technology.

Computer use starts early, and will change as your children get older. Younger children may want to find entertainment in games and activities online. Older children and teens may want to focus on things like socialising and networking.

Many websites offer help and advice on this topic for parents. Some of the key sites include:

  • Stay Smart Online—information and advice for protecting your personal and financial information, securing your computer from risks and protecting your child online
  • Cybersmart—resources, including multimedia guides, parent toolkits and a social networking guide to protect your child
  • ThinkUKnow—delivers interactive training to parents, carers and teachers through schools and organisations across Australia.

Setting ground rules

Open discussion will help set expectations. You should be prepared to revisit some of your ground rules over time as your child gets older, and their interests and experience changes.

Some things to consider include:

  • setting your computer up in a public space of your home, like the living room
  • agreeing when you children can use the computer, and for how long
  • talking about the kinds of websites your child can visit
  • agreeing on what to do in an unsafe situation.

Staying safe online

Staying safe online is referred to as cybersafety. Many resources (like the ones listed above) can help educate parents and children about the risks.

Talk about the issues with your children, and agree on how you are going to manage their internet and technology use together.

As a starting point you should:

  • know what your child is doing online
  • get to know the technologies your child is using
  • learn how to secure your computer with content filters, passwords and security software
  • make sure your child knows not to share personal information or media (photos, videos etc.)

Read more tips for young people to help them stay safe online.