"I like to talk about what they’re doing"

Wondering how other parents deal with parental controls? We spoke to one family about how they protect their children online.

Between family time, school, hobbies and playing with friends, Danielle’s young children are starting to explore the digital world.

Her eight-year-old daughter Eva does homework research online and enjoys using drawing apps on the family iPad. For her son Avery, who is nearly 5, apps are proving useful as he learns to read and write and he also loves watching Cbeebies and Sesame Street on YouTube.

“I try to sit with them when they’re online or using an app,” says Danielle. “I like to talk about what they’re doing so that it’s a more interactive experience. But I don’t want to helicopter them – as Eva’s a bit older, she needs to be able to do things on her own.”

"The BBC has some amazing learning websites, so she often uses them for homework help, and we’ve found some great puzzle apps for Avery that make learning the alphabet fun."

Danielle takes an active interest in what her children do online and acknowledges that, as they grow up, she will increasingly need to help them manage their digital world. As well as taking a common sense approach to this, her second line of defence is to use various built-in parental controls.

To help block inappropriate content, she has:

•  Got Sky Broadband Shield at home

•  Set up Vodafone Guardian and HTC Kid Mode on her mobile (for when the kids get hold of it)

She has also:

•  Set parental controls on her Chrome Web browser

•  Switched Google SafeSearch to 'strict filtering'

•  Enabled YouTube Safety Mode

•  But a PIN on BBC iPlayer

•  Turned off one-click buying on Amazon, eBay and Argos

"My main concern is that they’ll come across sexual content on the Web. Eva searches online when she’s doing her homework and I worry that something inappropriate will come up on her screen – perhaps if she mis-spells a word in the search box."

Danielle also checks the age ratings on any apps before downloading them and takes a look at the app herself before letting her son or daughter use it. She has also disabled in-app purchases so that there won’t be any costly mistakes.

“I always talk to them about what they do on the iPad and computer and I definitely feel more in control knowing I’ve also put these tools in place,” she explains. “They weren’t too difficult to set up. There’s no way I would let them go online without them.”