Interests & Risks

Children 8–10 years of age

Children at this stage begin taking games more seriously and experience deeper relationships with their peers. They also begin to seek privacy and often test parental limits.

Apps

Most of the time that children spend on phones, tablets and other devices involves using gaming, social networking and instant messaging apps. Generally speaking, apps are simple and fun to use, but it’s important for children’s use of apps to be supervised.

  • Apps can be hidden on a device. Icons can be arranged discreetly, or placed into a folder on a user’s device so they are no longer visible at a quick glance.
  • Many apps use location services when enabled on the device to identify the location of the user of the app through GPS technology. Some apps encourage the user to “check in” or share their location, while others may share location without asking for user input each time.
  • More specific risks related to gaming, chat, messaging and social networking apps can be found under the headings for these types of services below.
  • Explore the apps your child wants to download to determine if the app is age-appropriate.
  • Review the app guidelines. Can you report any inappropriate activity?
  • Assist your child in creating their login, password and profile information. A parent or safe adult should always supervise the online activities of children this age.
  • Download apps from official stores like iTunes® and Google Play® to avoid downloading illegitimate versions of apps, which may contain malware or viruses.
  • Ensure you and your child are aware of how additional charges can be incurred through the app you download. Many apps not only require payment to download and use, they also offer in-app purchases once you begin using the app. Enable settings that ensure parental permission is necessary to authorize any charges.
  • Become familiar with parental controls on phones and tablets. Some devices allow parents to limit access to specific apps, social media sites, Internet content and features available within the device. For example, on iPhones® and iPads®, parents can “Enable Restrictions” under the “Settings” icon.
  • Set limits on the amount of time your child spends online, and make sure you enforce them.
  • Teach your child to check with you before downloading any apps. At this age, online activities should always be supervised by a parent or safe adult.
  • Tell your child that if they come across something while online that makes them feel uncomfortable, they can tell you without fear of getting in trouble.
  • Talk to your child about chat capability within apps and the public nature of the Internet. Explain the importance of parental permission before chatting with people.

Cameras

Cameras allow children to be creative and have fun communicating with friends and family what they’re seeing in the world around them. While it’s fun to share these experiences, parents and children need to understand they could be sharing content with more people than just their friends.

  • Some apps/services that utilize a device’s camera may give users a sense of security if their pictures and/or videos are only temporarily shared, but pictures and/or videos can be captured and forwarded to others.
  • Content shared through a device’s camera on live-streaming services can be recorded, though children may be unaware that someone is recording.
  • Unless children know the other person, there is no way of verifying who is on the other end. Pre-recorded content can be streamed in place of live content, giving the appearance that children are speaking with someone “live.”
  • Enable controls and privacy settings on apps/services that limit who can see posted photos or videos. Many times, default settings in apps are on “public.” Switching a profile to “private” makes posts only available to an approved list of people, “friends,” or “followers.”
  • Monitor your child’s use of cameras on their devices, as well as the posting and exchanging of pictures/videos online.
  • Model appropriate use of cameras, making sure not to record or send pictures without consent.
  • Teach your child to check with you before video chatting with anyone or sharing any pictures/videos online. At this age, online activities should always be supervised by a parent or safe adult.
  • Explain to your child if someone tries to get them to send a picture or to video chat, or if someone sends a picture to them, to block that person and come tell you or a safe adult about it right away.
  • Explain to your child you are there to protect and support them, so if something goes wrong or if they make a mistake, it is okay to come to you for help.

Chat, messaging and texting

Chat, messaging and texting apps are a quick, fun and creative way for children to communicate with family and friends. However, many of these apps require users to be at least 13 years old. This form of communication, while fun, removes the social limits deemed normal in face-to-face interactions. Without these limits, personal boundaries can be crossed earlier and easier, creating the potential for hurtful, inappropriate or intimate information to be shared.

  • Once a message is sent, control over that message is lost. Personal information (including pictures and videos) can be easily saved and/or shared with others.
  • Children may accept friend/buddy requests from people they don’t know in person.
  • Some anonymous messaging apps allow children to engage in conversations with strangers easily.
  • Some apps/services give users a sense of security that their information (including pictures and videos) are only temporarily shared, but these apps/services may not be as secure as users believe they are. Shared information (including pictures and videos) can be captured and forwarded to others.
  • Assist your child in creating their screen name and password for any chat or messaging apps/services they’re using.
  • Review the chat or messaging program’s terms of use to see what the legal age for usage is, and where to report inappropriate content/messages.
  • Check to see that your child’s chat or messaging program is set up so that no one can begin speaking to them without their permission.
  • Teach your child to check with you before chatting/texting with anyone. At this age, online activities should always be supervised by a parent or safe adult.
  • Explain to your child if someone asks them to chat/text, they should come tell you or a safe adult about it right away.
  • Reinforce the idea that not everyone is who they say they are online. People can pretend to be older or younger than they actually are or they can misuse information, photos or videos you share with them.
  • Tell your child that if they come across something or someone while chatting/messaging/texting that makes them feel uncomfortable, they can tell you without fear of getting in trouble or losing online privileges.
  • Explain if someone asks them something that seems “weird” to stop chatting with the person and to share what happened with you.

Online gaming

The interactive components of online games make them a lot of fun and appealing for children. While children enjoy playing games online, it is important to make sure games are appropriate for your child’s age.

  • Many online games have a chat component where users can talk to people they do not know in person. Through the chat feature, children can easily be exposed to inappropriate conversations or redirected to inappropriate content on other sites.
  • Some gaming apps utilize the device’s GPS during gameplay, allowing the location of the user to be seen by other users.
  • Know and explore the games your child wants to play online to determine if the game is age-appropriate. Considerations may include:
    • Is the game moderated?
    • Does the game contain sexually explicit or violent material?
    • Is there an interactive (chat) component in the game? Is this an optional feature that can be turned off?
    • Are there other optional features that can be turned off for safety?
  • Review the game guidelines. Can you report any inappropriate activity?
  • Assist your child in creating their login and password information. A parent or safe adult should always supervise the online activities of children this age.
  • Teach your child to check with you before playing new games or sharing any information online. At this age, online activities should always be supervised by a parent or safe adult.
  • Just as you would explain guidelines for playing games offline, the same should be done for games played online.
  • Teach your child if someone they don’t know sends them an attachment or link, not to click on it.
  • Tell your child that if they come across something or someone while playing an online game that makes them feel uncomfortable, they can tell you without fear of getting in trouble.
  • Explain if someone in a game wants them to move to video chatting sites or other chat platforms they need to come to you for permission to be safe.

Search engines

Children can go online and find content on just about any topic they’re interested in. While they now have fun, informative and educational content at their fingertips, they also face risk when they’re searching the web.

Despite many safety features, children can still happen upon content that is inappropriate for their developmental stage when searching online.

  • Use filtering options available on many search engines to help moderate the search results that appear. While not 100 per cent effective, it helps to avoid violent and adult content.
  • Assist your child in searching for topics they are interested in. Supervise the online activities of children this age.
  • Set limits on the amount of time your child spends online, and make sure you enforce them.
  • Explain the public nature of the Internet. Discuss the inappropriate nature of some content available online and reinforce the idea not everything online is credible or accurate.
  • Tell your child that if they come across something while online that makes them feel uncomfortable, they can tell you without fear of getting in trouble.

Video-sharing sites

Watching videos online is very popular with children. The accessibility to information and entertainment is wonderful, but children can accidentally be exposed to inappropriate content as they select different videos to watch.

  • Many video-sharing sites do not provide the option to set parental controls or restrict what content children can view.
  • Children can engage in behaviour that may be recorded and misused.
  • Watch any videos your child wants to watch before letting your child watch them to ensure they are age-appropriate.
  • Assist your child in searching for videos of topics they are interested in. A parent or safe adult should always supervise the online activities of children this age.
  • Set limits on the amount of time your child spends watching videos, and make sure you enforce them.
  • Model how you make careful decisions about what you record and share online.
  • Teach your child to check with you first before searching for videos on video-sharing sites.
  • Tell your child that if they come across something while watching videos online that makes them feel uncomfortable, they can tell you without fear of getting in trouble.
  • Set and discuss limits on what your child records and shares online, weighing out the reasons for sharing publicly and whether it could be misused to embarrass or cause distress.

For more information, see Additional Information.