The internet is now such an integral part of children’s lives. It opens up many educational and social opportunities, giving them access to a world of information and experiences.
Whether on a computer at school, a laptop at home, a games console or mobile phone, children and young people are increasingly accessing the internet whenever they can and wherever they are.
As you would protect your child in the real world, you will want to make sure that they are safe in the virtual world, whatever they are doing.
E-Safety skills are skills for life. If your child understands the risks and can make sensible and informed choices online, they can get the most from the internet and stay safe whilst doing so – particularly from those people who might seek them out to cause harm.
What can parents/carers do to help children keep safe online?
Follow the Golden Rules
- Discuss together as a family how the internet will be used in your house. Consider what information should be kept private (such as personal information, photos in school uniform etc) and decide rules for making and meeting online friends. Ensure your children know the risks of accepting friends’ requests from strangers online and make sure you know what your child is doing online much like you would offline. Make sure your child uses strong passwords to protect their online accounts. It is important they know they need to keep their passwords safe and not share them with anyone or use the same password for several accounts.
- Consider locating your child’s computers and laptops in a family area but be aware that children access the internet on mobile phones, games consoles and tablets so use can’t always be supervised.
- Be especially aware of settings rules relating to your child’s use of webcams and any applications or devices which allow voice or video chat. Childnet have useful information for young people about using webcams safely www.childnet.com/young-people/secondary/hot-topics/video-chat-and-webcams
- Install antivirus software, secure your internet connection and use Parental Control functions for computers, mobile phones and games consoles to block unsuitable content or contact from unknown people. Research different parental control software and tools available for your home and select the tools which are most suitable to you, your child and the technology in your home. Visit www.internetmatters.org andwww.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-and-resources/a-parents-guide for safety information and advice about parental controls on consoles and devices and how to report concerns.
- Make sure you read any parental guidance and safety recommendations (including age requirements – most popular social networking sites and apps are only for users aged 13+) for any apps or websites before allowing your child to use them – visit www.net-aware.org.uk
- Always remember that parental control tools are not always 100% effective and sometimes unsuitable content can get past them, so don’t rely on them alone to protect your child.
- Take an active interest in your child’s life online and talk openly with them about the things they do. Talk to your child and ask them to show or even teach you how they use the internet, learn which websites or tools they like to use and why. Learning together with your child can often open opportunities to discuss safe behaviour online.
- To start a conversation with your child you could tell them that you understand that some young people share images and videos online and that you’re interested to know what they think about it and how they think they can keep themselves safe.
Dialogue – keep talking
- Ensure that your child knows that once a picture, video or comment is sent or posted online, then it can be very difficult to remove as other people can forward it and share it with others, without them even knowing.
- www.childnet.com and www.thinkuknow.co.uk has some really useful tips and ideas for parents/carers about starting conversations about online safety
- Always ensure your child knows how to report and block people online who may send nasty or inappropriate messages or content. Encourage your child not to retaliate or reply to cyberbullying and to keep any evidence.
- Make sure your child knows it’s important that they tell an adult they trust if anything happens online that makes them feel scared, worried or uncomfortable.
Remember, the internet is an essential part of young people’s lives and provides them with tremendous opportunities. The vast majority use it without coming to any harm so it’s essential to be realistic: banning the internet or web sites often will not work and it can make a child feel less able to report a problem or concern, so education around safe use is essential.
Share Aware – Launch of NSPCC Awareness Campaign on Child On-line Safety
The NSPCC have launched a public education campaign called Share Aware, to help parents keep their children safe online.
The campaign is aimed at parents and carers of children aged 8-12 – the age at which they start doing more online, become more independent and use a greater range of devices. The campaign aims to encourage parents and carers to understand online safety and to have conversations with their children about keeping safe. Having conversations from a young age can help build trust and openness and get preventative messages across.
However, many parents feel confused by the internet and out of their depth in understanding what their children are doing online and what the risks might be. The Share Aware campaign aims to give parents the tools to feel confident to have these conversations. The campaign directs parents to a range of new resources, including Net Aware, a simple NSPCC guide to the social networks, sites and apps children use – as rated by parents and young people themselves.
Please click on the link to find out more:-
Other Useful websites
- The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) a ‘child protection led law enforcement agency’.
- Think U Know
- Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre
- UK Safer Internet Centre
- Click on the link for children to read the story of ‘Digiduck’s Big Decision’ – a story all about friendship and responsibility online.
- Click on the link below for children to read all about ‘The Adventures of Smartie the Penguin’ and sensible choices on the internet.
- Supporting young people online – information for parent and carers.
- Keeping children safe on line