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Online Safety for Parents

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Online Safety – supporting young people online Information and advice for parents and carers

The internet – an inspiring and positive place

The internet is an amazing resource which enables children and young people to connect, communicate and be creative in a number of different ways, on a range of devices. However, the internet is always changing, and being able to keep up to date with your children’s use of technology can be a challenge. You may sometimes feel that your child has better technical skills than you do, however children and young people still need advice and protection when it comes to managing their lives online. Issues that your child may encounter on the internet will vary depending on their age and online activities. We have grouped potential online risks into these 4 categories.

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Conduct

Children need to be aware of the impact that their online activity can have on both themselves and other people, and the digital footprint that they create on the internet. It’s easy to feel anonymous online and it’s important that children are aware of who is able to view, and potentially share, the information that they may have posted. When using the internet, it’s important to keep personal information safe and not share it with strangers. Encourage your child to be respectful and responsible when communicating with others online, and to consider how what they share may reflect on them. Discuss with your child the importance of reporting inappropriate conversations, messages, images and behaviours and how this can be done.

Content

Some online content is not suitable for children and may be hurtful or harmful.This is true for content accessed and viewed via social networks, online games, blogs and websites. It’s important for children to consider the reliability of online material and be aware that it might not be true or written with a bias. Children may need your help as they begin to assess content in this way. There can be legal consequences for using or downloading copyrighted content, without seeking the author’s permission.

Contact

It is important for children to realise that new friends made online may not be who they say they are and that once a friend is added to an online account, you may be sharing your personal information with them. Regularly reviewing friends lists and removing unwanted contacts is a useful step. Privacy settings online may also allow you to customise the information that each friend is able to access. If you have concerns that your child is, or has been, the subject of inappropriate sexual contact or approach by another person, it’s vital that you report it to the police via the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (www.ceop.police.uk). If your child is bullied online, this can also be reported online and offline. Reinforce with your child the importance of telling a trusted adult straight away if someone is bullying them or making them feel uncomfortable, or if one of their friends is being bullied online.

Commercialism

Young people’s privacy and enjoyment online can sometimes be affected by advertising and marketing schemes, which can also mean inadvertently spending money online, for example within apps. Encourage your child to keep their personal information private, learn how to block both pop ups and spam emails, turn off in-app purchasing on devices where possible, and use a family email address when filling in online forms. Make your child aware of scams that may seek to gain access to their accounts, and advise them to be wary in following
links or opening attachments in emails that appear to be from organisations such as banks and service providers.

Find out more ways of starting a conversation about online safety at childnet.com/have-a-conversation

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What can I do right now?

  • Maintain an open dialogue with your child and encourage them to talk to you about their internet use: for example, who they’re talking to, services they’re using, and any issues they may be experiencing.
  • Create a family agreement to establish your children’s boundaries, and your expectations, when on the internet. A template agreement can be found at www.childnet.com/have-a-conversation
  • Give your child strategies to deal with any online content that they are not comfortable with – such as turning off the screen, telling an adult they trust and using online reporting facilities.
  • Consider using filtering software to block unwanted content. In addition to filtering, remember that discussion with your child, and involvement in their internet use, are both effective ways to educate them about the internet.
  • Encourage your child to ‘think before you post.’ Online actions can impact not only yourself but the lives of others. Content posted privately online can be publicly shared by others, and may remain online forever.
  • Understand the law. Some online behaviour may break the law, for example when downloading or sharing content with others. Be able to recommend legal services.
  • Familiarise yourself with the privacy settings and reporting features available on popular sites, services and apps.
  • If your child is being bullied online, save all available evidence and know where to report the incident, for example to the school, service provider, or the police if the law has been broken.
  • Familiarise yourself with the age ratings for games and apps which can help to indicate the level and suitability of the content. Also see if online reviews are available from other parents as these may be helpful.
  • Set up a family email address that your children can use when signing up to new games and websites online.
  • Encourage your child to use nicknames (where possible) instead of their full name online, to protect their personal information, and create strong passwords for every account.

This information is also available in more detail in the following languages

Please click on this link for helpful guides on young people’s rights on social media

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • WhatsApp
  • YouTube

There are many websites where you can find lots of useful information about
games, apps and social media, as well as tips on how to keep your children safe
online. Press on any button below and go straight to the websites.

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Please do watch this video from the NSPCC about social media and young children.

Safe search engines for children.

They don’t have to use Google or You Tube (you can also block these sites through your parental controls). There are other sites and search engines your children can use to search for information or videos that are safe for children. If they use these sites they will not have access to adult content or images.

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