THE BLOG

Hansel, Gretel and the Digital Babysitter

14/10/2015 10:58 BST | Updated 13/10/2016 10:12 BST

Once upon a time there lived two children named Hansel and Gretel. The children lived in a small forester's cottage with their father, a poor wood cutter.

The family were very poor and, short of food and money, the children's father was too busy working to look after the children as carefully as he should. He loved his children dearly, but couldn't spend every minute watching them.

The children's favourite pastime was to scurry deep into the thick, dark woods, where they loved to play games and explore untouched glades. The children's father taught them to programme their mobile GPS so that they would never lose their way.

Hansel and Gretel were obedient children, until one day they were in such haste to get to the woods that they forgot to heed their father's advice and programme their smartphones. The children played contentedly, and it was only as the daylight faded that they realised they had no signal under the thick cover of the wood.

As night drew in, the children were scared and began to seek refuge. After a time, they came across a little house, resplendent with glittering fruit gems and shiny white icing. It seemed too good to be true. Hungry and tired, Hansel and Gretel ran to the house and couldn't stop themselves from biting into the gingerbread walls and iced fondant windowsills.

Busy as they were satisfying their hunger, the children didn't notice an old witch creep from the house. "Oh you poor children, come inside and warm yourselves by the fire! I have Wi-Fi too, so you can programme your smartphones and map your route home."

The children cried with delight, and followed the witch inside her cottage. Before they even knew it, she had bundled them up and locked them in a cage. "I've tricked you, you foolish children! I'll put you into a pie and have you for my supper!"

Just as Hansel and Gretel lost their way in the woods and came across danger, parameters must be put in place to prevent children from accessing content online that is inappropriate for them, after all, children aren't always able to recognise a dangerous or unsuitable situation.

Children are so intuitive with technology and it's amazing how quickly they learn to use a device, even at an extremely young age. While this is great for keeping them entertained and teaching new skills through educational games, it can be a matter of seconds before they have clicked on the wrong link and are suddenly exposed to content that is not age appropriate.

Parental controls are a quick and easy way to help your children stay safe; you can prevent them from accessing inappropriate websites, monitor the sites they visit and limit the amount of time they spend online - even when you aren't around. The controls also limit any information you don't want your child sharing, whether it be their name, age, phone number, or any other private information.

Educating children about how they can stay online is an important part in making sure they have a positive experience with the internet. Teaching them how to close a browser window if something surprising or disturbing occurs, or telling them never to chat, type messages, or share information with anyone online unless you are with them will help provide them with the tools they need to use the internet safely.

The internet is a fantastic resource for children to learn and explore independently; but it's important that you ensure the right measures are in place to stop them getting lost in the deep dark woods of the online world.