11/02/2014 08:07 GMT | Updated 12/04/2014 06:59 BST

Safer Internet Day

Protecting children from cyber-bullies is especially challenging with smartphones as they can be targeted in so many ways, especially out of view of their parents.

Tuesday 11 February is Safer Internet Day, providing parents with the perfect opportunity to engage their children in a discussion about how they use the Internet and how to stay safe online.

You'll find some great ideas on the Safer Internet Day website , but here are some of the highlights:

  • You can find some ideas to kick-start the discussion here .
  • Or why not sit down with your children and take the Safer Internet Day quiz?.
  • On the day itself, TV programmes for you and your children will be streamed live on the website.

Kaspersky Lab research reveals that more than a quarter of parents think their children have been exposed to online risks in the last 12 months - this includes inappropriate content and cyber bullying. But only one in five parents takes steps to regulate their children's online activities. Technology can't solve all the issues around our children's online safety, but it can certainly help parents to frame their children's online experience and at a time when children are increasingly using smartphones and tablets to get online, it's important that parents don't overlook these devices.

There is a common misconception that smartphones and tablets don't need the same level of protection as a PC, but with such a high percentage of parents not having a clear view of their children's online activity, this way of thinking needs to change. The internet is an incredible resource, both for social use and in an educational capacity. But in the same way as we would teach our children to cross the road safely, we must teach them to be aware of, and respect, the dangers of the internet. Just because a threat is out of sight, it doesn't mean we shouldn't keep it front of mind.

Here are my top tips for ensuring you and your children stay safe online:

  1. Make use of the parental control controls built into both Android devices and iPhones. If you're not comfortable with smartphone technology, ask the sales assistant to show you these features when you're buying a phone for your child.
  2. Don't forget to make use of settings that prevent in-app purchases, to avoid running up hefty bills when your children use your device.
  3. Install security software - not only to block mobile malware, but also to filter out inappropriate content and block senders of nuisance SMS messages.
  4. Encourage your children to talk about their online experience and, in particular, anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. Establish this dialogue early, so that your children feel that they can discuss all areas of their online life without fear of judgement or reprimand.
  5. Protecting children from cyber-bullies is especially challenging with smartphones as they can be targeted in so many ways, especially out of view of their parents. Deal with cyber bullying as you would in real life by encouraging children to be open and talk to a trusted adult if they experience any threatening or inappropriate messages. Numbers and contacts on apps can both be blocked if they are making children uncomfortable.
  6. Make use of the great advice on the Internet - including the Safer Internet Day web site or CEOP's thinkuknow web site.