Top tips for protecting your children online

Child safety online
Monday, February 4, 2019

New research commissioned by InternetNZ show that 92% of New Zealanders are concerned about children accessing inappropriate content online and potential bullying.  Although this is a top concern the overwhelming majority of those surveyed (9/10) felt that the benefits of using the internet outweighed the risk.

With the rising prevalence of social media, and a requirement to use the internet for learning at school, children today are growing up with an unparalleled level of access to data. However, with so much adult content saturating the internet, even infiltrating mainstream sites like Pinterest or Instagram, protecting our children from inappropriate content can feel like an impossible task.

InternetNZ outreach and engagement director Andrew Cushen says the survey is a reminder for families to talk with each other about the different types of content found online, and to talk about what to do if they come across any upsetting content. "We need to ensure that people of all ages feel safe on the Internet," he says

What are ISP family filter services in NZ?

Family Filter is a parental control tool internet providers offer to block the unwanted content, such as pornographic, offensive and malicious websites from being displayed to children. ISPs use intelligent firewalls to keep your kids safe from the not so great corners of the web. Learn more about family filters here

Which Broadband Providers offer family filter services?


Orcon’s Family Filter service is available from $5 per month. It is a non-intrusive first line of defence against R16+ sites; dating, drugs, gambling; alcohol and tobacco sites; known hacked or infected sites; sites about hacking and illegal activity; and suicide or self-harm site.


Slingshot’s Family Filter service is available from $5 per month. When the filter is on it protects your family against: 16+ sites, pornography, and nudity; known hacked or infected websites; dating, drugs, gambling, alcohol, tobacco sites; websites about hacking, dark web, and other illegal activity; and suicide and self-harm sites.

Stuff Fibre

Stuff Fibre’s SafeZone is included in their broadband plans.  SafeZone helps filter out adult content, social media or anything undesirable. There are a range of pre-configured settings that can be customised to suit your family. SafeZone applied to every device connected to your home network.


Compass’ family filter service is available from $5 per month. Compass’ CyberGuardian provides parents with a simple to use and adjustable filer over what can be access online:

Top online safety tips for parents:

Set clear expectations 

Talk to your children about the types of behaviours you’d like them to adopt online. For example, which apps and social media sites they use, how long they spend online, and the types of content you feel is appropriate. This is likely to be an on-going and evolving conversation as online behaviour is likely to depend on the age of your child and what you feel comfortable with.

Understand what your children are doing online

Showing an interest in the things your children do online is a key first step as it helps build your understanding of their online world, and creates a relationship where it will be easier to have more difficult conversations about it in the future. 
Talk to your children about what they are using the internet for. Are they using the internet for learning? To create videos or music? To create friendships and communicate? Who’s in their network? What information are they sharing? What types of games are they playing?

Give it a try yourself

If you don’t understand a game, app or network your child is using online try it yourself. Putting yourself in their shoes is the best way to get an understanding of the challenges young people face online. Take the time to explore website and apps and read the terms and conditions. You could even ask your child to show you how it works as a way to start a conversation around online safety.

Set a good example

Take a look at the example you are seeing for your children when it comes to device use and online behaviour. How often do you use your smartphone or laptop at the dinner table or during family activities? Do you ask permission before you publish family photos on social media? Do you need to brush up your knowledge around online safety, privacy or online shopping

Teach your children these top basics about online safety:

  • Use strong passwords to protect your information
  • Protect your information online - for example, login details, bank account details, addresses, phone numbers, birthdates.  Talk about the personal details children might sharing online, such as where they are, which school they attend, or apps that share your current location with friends or the public.
  • Not everything is as it seems. It may seem obvious to you, but sometimes children don’t understand that people are not who they say they are online. 
  • Digital footprint – teach your child to think about everything they post online forming part of their permanent digital footprint.
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