5 ways the internet can help you enjoy family time together
1 Get out
If you’re out and about and using Google Maps or another similar app to find your way to new areas or attractions, it’s the ideal opportunity to talk to your children about understanding location services – what they are, how they work and how they relate to privacy.
While useful for certain apps, such as maps or mini cab services, it’s good practice for children to turn off location settings on social media apps, such as Instagram and Facebook. If not, people can see where they are when they post a photo or status update.
If they have privacy features set up (such as only allowing friends to see your posts), this is unlikely to be a problem (see point 3, below), but if their posts are public and available for everyone to see, this could leave them vulnerable to strangers finding them.
How to turn off location services:
- On iPhone, you will find Location services under Privacy in Settings. You can turn them off completely, or only on specific apps.
- On android phones, you will find Location under Settings. Again, you can turn off location settings on individual apps, such as Facebook, if you prefer to keep some open.
2 Stay in
You don’t need to leave the house to take advantage of family time. Playing the online games your children like with them, and asking to see their favourite apps are great ways to take advantage of time at home. This could be your chance to discover what it is about Minecraft that has been keeping them so absorbed recently. You can find out how to help your child stay safe on Minecraft here.
3 Combine the two!
Mix the inside and outside world with a tip from the new Digital Manifesto from the Scouts Association. Go for a hike or explore your local area, and encourage your children to video it as you go. Then, when you get home, help them make a film of your day. Helping them post it on social media to friends and family only is also a good way to help them (and you!) learn about how to control who sees what you post on apps such as Facebook. You can read how to update privacy settings on Facebook here.
4 Socialise on and offline – safely
Some parents may want to have their kids all to themselves when they're at home, but chances are both you and your children will want to have some time apart from time to time.
If the kids are making plans to see friends, take advantage of the opportunity to remind them to be careful who they connect with on social media, and not to agree to meet up with someone they don’t know in real life without you being present. They can read advice about online friends here.
5 Relax in front of some family-friendly online entertainment
Every family needs some serious chill time as a group and video on demand services mean you can watch films and TV shows together whenever and wherever you want. Here are some highlights for February on four of the most popular services:
As with adult shows such as The Man In The High CastleandTransparent, Amazon Prime offers original programming for children. Gortimer Gibbon's Life On Normal Street Season 2, follows three friends in their daily lives as they face new adventures and challenges. As one reviewer put it: ‘it has a beautiful whimsical innocence mixed with a gentle dose of pre-teen growing pains’.
For younger kids, Teen Titans and Peppa Pig are included in a Prime Subscription.
Information on setting up parental controls on Amazon prime can be found here.
The moving and thought provoking The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, a faithful adaptation of John Boyne’s acclaimed novel, debuts on the service this month.
Or try animated series Turbo FASTfrom Dreamworks. Based on 2013’s full length film Turbo, it’s the first Netflix Original series for children and features a stunt snail and his crew taking on challenges, and the odd villain, along the way.
Information on setting up parental controls on Netflix can be found here.
Older kids can watch classic ‘let’s put on the show right here’ musical drama Glee. NowTV also features programmes from Nickelodeon, including the ever popular Spongebob Squarepants, while younger kids can practise their Spanish watching Dora The Explorer.
Find out how to set up parental controls on NowTV here. Select ‘How do I change my parental PIN settings’ and follow the instructions.
Access all BBC TV and radio content whenever and wherever you want it, including CBeebies and CBBC.
Find out how to set up parental controls on iPlayer here.