With S getting older, I’m becoming more concerned about online safety. When I was the only person using the internet in the house, I didn’t worry too much about these things – but S now has her own tablet, and has taken to using my old mobile to take photos of things (I need to take a photo of these holy old socks before we throw them away!). I can’t possibly hope to control what S does online as she gets older – so the best I can hope for is to ensure there are safety measures put in place.

If you are in the same position as me, here are some tips to get you started with online safety:

  • Built-in children’s settings. S has her own tablet, but it is always on the children’s setting. In order to download a new app, or to authorise use of a new app, you need a pin code. You can also set it to limit the amount of time that can be spent on the tablet in any 24-hour period, and what times of day it can be used.
  • Use a different password for every site – and change them every couple of months. Yes, I know this is a massive pain in the bum. But the last thing you want is for someone to get hold of your Facebook password and then be able to access your bank accounts.
  • Make your passwords hard to guess. Yes, it’s easier for you to remember your dog’s name and your house number- but that’s pretty easy for someone else to guess too! A random string of letters and numbers might be harder to remember – but they’re also harder to guess!
  • Consider using a VPN. That sounds a bit high tech, but a VPN is basically a secure tunnel between your computer and a server, which means that all of your internet traffic goes through that tunnel and the anonymous server. This means your browsing history is anonymised – but perhaps more importantly (for me at least), hackers can’t track your online activity. Some of the best VPNs can help you to feel more safe and secure in this new digital age.
  • Remember that online security applies to your mobile too! One thing to be particularly wary of is accessing your bank accounts online using a shared wifi network, for example if you’re in a cafe or other shared space. 
  • Be cautious. This is probably the main tip, to be honest! It sounds paranoid but hackers are becoming more and more sophisticated. While it is unrealistic to consider not buying things online or putting personal information online these days, it is still really important to be careful about what you share and where. Lots of sites offer to save your payment details “for next time” – but do you really need to have your card details saved on numerous websites? If any of them is hacked (and lots of big names have had hacking scandals in recent years), your card details are in the hands of the hackers. Make sure you back up data and always play it safe where possible.

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


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