Technological options like parental controls will help your child stay safe, but no solution is 100% effective. It is important to talk to your children about online safety to encourage responsible behaviours and to help them develop digital resilience. Research shows that regular conversations at home help minimise the harm if things do go wrong online.
Types of parental controls
There are three main types of controls to help you to filter, restrict and control the content your child can access:
- Network controls, set on the hub or modem from your ISP (Internet Service Provider), which apply to all devices connected in the household.
- Device controls, which can be set in the device, such as laptop, iPad or smartphones.
- Platform or application controls, which can be set directly on the application settings, such as YouTube or Google.
Setting up parental controls
Guidance on what controls and safety features are available and how to set them up are available at these links:
- Google Online Safety Centre(external link)
- Google Safe Search(external link)
- Android Family Link(external link)
- Google Internet Safety(external link) (YouTube video)
- Chromebook Parental Controls(external link) (YouTube video)
- Restricted Mode on YouTube(external link) (YouTube video)
- Windows Family Safety Centre(external link)
- Family Features and Settings for Windows Environment(external link) (YouTube video)
- Apple Family Safety Centre(external link)
- Parental Controls on iOS(external link) (YouTube video)
- Mac Parental Controls(external link) (YouTube video)
More information about parental control software is available from Netsafe:
Parental controls on devices(external link).
Switch on Safety
When students learn from home, they are not protected by the school's content filter, so it is important to take extra steps to make sure they stay safe online. Switch on Safety is a free filter parents can apply to their child’s devices which blocks unsafe websites such as scams, bad software and content unsuitable for young eyes.
The filter was created by The Network for Learning(external link) (N4L), the Crown company which filters what students can access on the internet at school.
How to activate Switch on Safety:
- Find where you can change DNS settings
- Change the settings to Switch on Safety, and
- Test the device to check if it works.
You can also use the ‘Switch on Safety’ setting on your own devices. The setting automatically includes activating Google Safe Search and more.
More information and instructions for specific devices is available on the Switch on Safety website(external link).
Video games and online gaming
Netsafe have developed the Online Gaming Toolkit(external link), which has suggestions on how parents and caregivers can support young gamers to navigate challenges they encounter.
You can find information on how to manage your child's account, age rating and parental controls on the following gaming platforms:
- PlayStation(external link) and how to create a child account(external link)
- Xbox One(external link)
- Microsoft Xbox family settings app(external link)
- Nintendo Switch(external link) parental control
- Steam family view(external link) and a guide for parents(external link)
- EA Origin(external link) how to set up an account for your child
It is important to protect the information you and your child share online. If you’re not careful, people can steal or misuse it.
On social media, both adults and children can share information, pictures, videos and messages. Lots of people can access your child’s information without asking.
Many social media platforms don’t have privacy settings for profile pictures or basic information.
- check the privacy settings of your child’s social media accounts
- follow people your children have met in person and unfollow ‘unofficial’ pages
- turn off location sharing on social media platforms
- think about the content under basic information and what your child’s profile picture is.
Privacy settings for online platforms
Each online platform has information about its policies, tools and resources on safety:
- Facebook Safety Center(external link)
- Google Safety Center(external link)
- Instagram Safety tools(external link)
- Metaverse and kids(external link)
- Oculus Safety Center(external link)
- Snapchat Safety Center(external link)
- Twitter: A safer Twitter(external link)
- Xbox Responsible Gaming(external link)
- TikTok: Privacy & Safety(external link)
Protecting your privacy online(external link) – CERT NZ
Your privacy rights(external link) – Privacy Commissioner