I'm a parenting expert and these are the six things you NEED to know before letting your kids go online

SETTING boundaries for kids online can be a tricky hurdle to jump but a top parenting expert has shared how to get it right.

Whether it's playing games, chatting to friends, watching videos or doing homework, the internet is unavoidable these days, and it's hard for grown ups to constantly keep an eye on what youngsters are up to.

Or as Dr Linda Papadopoulos puts it, you can't take away the rain but you can give the kids a raincoat to protect themselves.

While things like parental controls that cut off internet at certain times are a good idea, she actually says the best way is to get the conversation right.

Given that kids have just received new internet-connected gadgets for Christmas and have time off to use them, Dr Papadopoulos warns parents that now is the best time to get talking about it before you get busy and forget.

"We need to look at bigger conversations such as getting your first smartphone and the boundaries we need to set with this or perhaps get their own laptop, which they're allowed to use in their bedroom.

"This can be a challenging time for parents and many may find it difficult to keep up with what their kids are doing online," she told The Sun.

"It's a critical time for parents to discuss what that actually means and re-establishing their boundaries ahead of the new year."

Here are Dr Papadopoulos's top tips:

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Family rules

Rules that can be applied across all ages in the household apparently work well.

This can mean making it clear that gadgets are not allowed to be used at the dinner table, for example.

Explain your 'why'

Communicate why you need to put parental controls in place or why an
app isn't age-appropriate and help them think critically about their own wellbeing.

Don't vilify technology

It's here to stay so you better get used to it.

Be adaptable

Keep the communication open, as there will always be a new app and new tech that comes along.

Allow the kids to get involved and explain it to you.

Every child is different

The reality is that every child is different, so parents will need to have different conversations and sometimes set different digital boundaries.

Don't rely on parental controls alone

Parental control tools are useful but don't equip kids for the future.

Communication is key so they are able to self-regulate, like you would in real-life.

Dr Linda Papadopoulos is an ambassador for the Internet Matters child safety organisation, which offers a My Family’s Digital Toolkit for more parental advice.

In other news, NASA has slammed Russia after a missile it fired into one of its own satellites forced the space station to perform an emergency swerve.

Scientists have figured out how fast a type of dinosaur could run – and it would have given Usain Bolt a run for his money.

And Google has confirmed that some of its smartphones are unable to call emergency services due to a software bug.

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