How many places are your kids accessing the web from? Check out our handy infographic and learn about how to help them get the most from their time online.

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For many parents, helping their kids use the computer at home to get the most out of the web in safety is a top priority. But what about mobile devices? The internet is now available in more places than ever, and it can sometimes seem like a lot to keep on top of.

Thankfully, help is at hand. Working with The Parent Zone, we’ve put together a new infographic about all the ways parents can help their kids stay safe online, on all of their devices. To get more detail on the topic at hand, we’ve been chatting to one of the charity’s resident online experts, Vicki Shotbolt. Read on for some invaluable internet advice…

#GrowingUpMobile

Our new ‘Mind the Gap’ infographic shows all the ways children can access the web, and how parents can help keep them safe. You can check it out below:

 

mindthegap thumbMind the Gap
Choose a path and follow your kids’ online journey in our new infographic designed to help parents understand the changing shape of the web.
Click here to see it for yourself!

 

One of the big things you’ll notice is that access at home, through a computer, makes up just a tiny part of the big picture. With mobile phones, tablets and more, things are changing, and changing fast…

“The shape of the web has changed massively over time,” says Vicki. “Even over the last year we’ve seen an enormous growth in the number of young people accessing the internet via a tablet or mobile phone, instead of using a tradItional computer. And clearly, if it’s mobile, it’s much more difficult for a parent to keep an eye on.

“I was looking at information that an organisation put out recently,” Vicki adds, “and it was still focussing on keeping your computer in a family space at home. That’s such out of date, old fashioned advice now, because kids are using the internet more on mobile devices than it on computers. Without a question it’s more mobile.”

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“A lot of parents don’t have awareness of this; they still think ‘internet’ means ‘computer’. There’s been a lot in the press recently about the parental controls that ISPs are putting in place, which is great, but that does mean that some parents have focussed all their attentions there, and in doing so have forgotten that that’s not really where their children are accessing the web from these days.

“We very often have parents who will say to us that they’ve really locked down their computer at home, and that they’ve set up Safe Search and have filters on. We’ll then ask what kind of phones their kids use, and it’ll always be devices that they’ll be using to go online. Some parents still have very low levels of awareness of that.”

Closing the generation gap

The Parent Zone is keen to see more parents getting to grips with the way the internet is being accessed in 2014. But with tech changing all the time, is the gap only getting bigger? Vicki doesn’t think so:

“It’s a bit of a myth that there’s an enormous knowledge gap between parents and children, which never previously existed,” she explains. “But it’s always been there. In the 1960s is could be the kids’ drug of choice that parents didn’t know about, for instance. Now it’s parts of the internet, or certain apps, that parents don’t know exist. There always has been a generation gap and there always will be, but what we’ve got to do is make it as small as we possibly can.

“Things will start to change, but as with everything with the internet, there will always be a time lag between what parents understand and what young people are doing.”

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So who’s job is it to close the gap? Parents? Schools? Service providers? Manufacturers? The answer is: all of the above:

“It’s a team effort,” says Vicki. “We think very strongly that the best way for children to stay safe online is for them to be well supported. The job of raising safe, happy children obviously should lie with the parents, but manufacturers, mobile operators and ISPs also have a responsibility to make sure their products and services are as safe and easy to understand as they can be. That’s why infographics like Vodafone’s are really important because it does show parents that there are loads of ways children can get online now.

“My simple advice is: don’t bury your head in the sand.”

“My simple advice is: don’t bury your head in the sand. Seek out information. As a parent, you need to be keeping up to date with what your kids are doing. There are lots of resources out there saying ‘you must remember to talk to your children’, but parents talk to their children all the time.

“It’s not just about talking,” Vicki says in closing. “It’s about asking the right questions. Ask your children where they’re going on their devices and who they’re talking to. That’s what really matters.”

More on online safety… We’ve got a wealth of information and advice on how to help your kids get the most out of the internet safely. Check out the Vodafone Social Family Zone here, or the Family Hub on vodafone.co.uk here for more.