In today’s increasingly digital world, it’s more important than ever that parents and carers feel equipped to help children develop the resilience, information and power they need to thrive online.
There is no doubt that the internet and social media give children amazing opportunities to learn, to develop new skills, and to keep in touch with friends. However, it not always clear that the rights that children enjoy offline also extend online.
Terms and conditions for websites, apps and online services are often excessively long and very difficult to understand. This means that many people tick ‘I agree’ without ever reading the first line of a terms and conditions agreement. Yet buried within these documents is important information about the rights of the companies and the rights of the user.
In order to help parents, carers, teachers and children understand these rights, I have worked with the law firm Schillings, who specialise in privacy law, to produce simplified terms and conditions for Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook– the top 5 platforms used by children and young people.
I’ve called on social media companies to commit to simplifying their own terms and conditions. In the meantime, I’ve worked with Tes to produce teaching packs aimed at children and young people at key stage levels 1, 2 and 3. These packs, which include the simplified terms and conditions as well as lesson plans, can be found here.
However, I know that parents and carers would also find this information very useful, so I am making them more widely available to download.
Creating short and simple terms and conditions is one of the first steps in helping children to understand their rights and become more informed digital citizens and I hope these tools will help parents and carers do that too.
Please see below for suggestions about how you can use the terms and conditions to learn more and support your child. We gladly welcome any further ideas and examples.
Children and young people often know more than their parents and carers when it comes social media sites. However, they may lack an understanding of their online rights and the rights and responsibilities of online companies. Using our simplified terms and conditions to work out what children actually understand can be a useful starting point for more in-depth conversations about online activity and behaviour.
Adults can also struggle to understand terms and conditions. Our simplified summaries can be used as a fun quiz to help adults learn alongside their children, so that everyone is better informed.
Everyone can play a part in helping to improve the web and support others to get the most from their time online. Discuss with your child how their behaviour online could help others. Does your child consider the rights of others when they post online? Do they know how to report things? Do they feel confident about finding help when they need it? Can they help others do these things?
Helping children manage their time online and get the most from the web can be a challenge for parents and carers. Our Digital 5 A Day framework builds on the NHS 5 steps to mental wellbeing and can help you and your child find new, fun ways to balance time spent online with health and wellbeing.
The simplified terms and conditions are a useful starting point for understanding and taking control of your rights and privacy online. However, it is important to go beyond the terms and understand how you can take control of your privacy settings, report content, block users and get help when you need it.
Note: These terms and conditions have been edited for educational purposes and are not a replacement for the original versions.