How you can keep your under 7s safe online

It is more than likely that the under 7s you work with are spending a significant amount of their life online. The latest Ofcom statistics show that:

  • 52% of 3-4 year olds go online for nearly 9 hours a week  
  • 82% of 5-7s go online for around 9 ½ hours week.

So how are they spending this time online? 

They are streaming video content, with close to half of 3-4s and 70% of 5-7s having used YouTube. Time spent watching TV continues to decrease as children turn to streaming services that provide greater variety and personalisation based on what they view.

Children are seeing YouTubers not only as a source of content but increasingly as a source of inspiration, with many being inspired to create their own content on YouTube or other live streaming platforms.

Many are also gaming, with 37% of 3-4s and three-quarters of 5-15s playing games online, and often they will also be using the chat features within the game to talk to others. 

Engaging in these online activities provides children with hours of enjoyment, opportunities for learning and developing interests and social connections. 

From this young age, it is important that we start exploring the benefits of these online activities as well as supporting children to understand the risks and how to stay safe. To help you do this, we’ve brought together resources designed to help you develop an effective approach to educating your 4-7s on how to navigate their online world safely. 

Jessie & Friends – our new resource for 4-7 year olds

We often hear from professionals that delivering online safety education to this age group can be difficult due to the lack of age-appropriate resources.

Use Jessie & Friends, our new three-episode animated series, to equip your 4-7 year olds with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to help them stay safe from the risks they may encounter online. 

The series follows the adventures of Jessie, Tia and Mo as they begin to navigate the online world. They learn that while the internet can be an exciting place where they can learn and have fun, sometimes they may encounter things online which make them feel worried or sad. 

The animations focus on watching videos, sharing pictures, and playing games online. These themes were informed by using latest research, analysing trends in online behaviours of children and following workshops with children, professionals and parents and carers.

With the animated series, you’ll have access to a comprehensive resource pack, including session plans for each episode. This pack has been awarded the PSHE Association Quality Mark demonstrating that the resource supports safe and effective teaching practice and meets the PSHE Association’s ‘Ten principles of effective PSHE education’.  

The plans and activities have been designed so that you can easily adapt them to suit your setting.

Along with the animated series and resource pack, you can download subtitled versions of the animations, storybooks for each episode, and posters for parents/carers and children.

‘Education for a Connected World’ curriculum framework

If you work in an education setting, it is important that your curriculum provision supports under 7s to develop the skills and knowledge to navigate the internet safely.

The Education for a Connected World framework, published by the UK Council for Internet Safety,  sets out skills and knowledge across different age ranges, including early years to 7s. It focuses on eight different aspects of online education such as online relationships, managing online information, online bullying, and privacy and security.

Use the framework to evaluate your existing provision and develop a rich and effective curriculum that supports under 7s to be safe and healthy online.

Not working in a school? You’ll still find this framework useful when identifying the skills and knowledge the children you work with should have and planning what you can do  to support them.

Safeguarding guidance for early years managers and practitioners

Curriculum provision is just one aspect of a whole-school approach to safeguarding children online. Make sure all elements of online safeguarding practice meet relevant statutory requirements and reflect best practice.

If you manage an early years setting (including wraparound care for this age group), use the prompts in UKCIS’ new online safeguarding guidance to review your current practice in areas such as:

  • Policies and procedures
  • Infrastructure and technology
  • Education and training

The guidance highlights a range of resources which can support you in developing a whole-setting approach. 

If you’re a practitioner working in an early years setting, gain a better understanding of your role in promoting online safety by reading UKCIS’ online safeguarding guidance for practitioners. It outlines the online risks children may experience in your setting and at home and some of the strategies you can apply to minimise them. 

The guidance will also support you to reflect on your own professional practice including what you need to consider when using social media in your personal life.

Looking to engage parents?

If so, deliver our primary years parents and carers presentation to educate parents on:

  • What their children do online including live streaming and gaming
  • How they can support them to stay safe
  • How to report to CEOP

You can also share our article for parents on how to keep under 5s safe online on your social media or in a newsletter.