Keeping Children Safe online matters
Advice for Parents and Carers
The internet is such an integral part of children’s lives these days. It opens up so many educational and social opportunities, giving them access to, quite literally, 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 whatever they are doing. Like learning to cross the road online. Online 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 harm them.
Potential online risks can include:
- Access and exposure to inappropriate /disturbing images and content
- Access and exposure to racist or hate material
- Sexual grooming, luring, abuse and exploitation by/with strangers
- Sharing personal information with strangers that could identify and locate a child offline
- Online bullying (cyber bullying) by peer and people they consider their ‘friends’
- Being encouraged take part in violent behaviour such as ‘happy slapping’
- Sending or receiving sexually explicit films, images or messages of themselves or others (this is known as sexting when sent by mobile phone)
- Glorifying activities such as drug taking or excessive drinking
- Physical harm to young people in making video content, such as enacting and imitating stunts and risk-taking activities
- Leaving and running away from home as a result of contacts made online.
How Do I Start?
One of the easiest – and most effective – things you can do is simply talk to your child.
Help your child think about who sees what they share and compare it to what they would be happy to share offline. Explain how everything they share online – like user names, images and comments – builds up a picture of who they are.
Agree on some ground rules together – which sites and apps can be used; when it is okay to use the internet; what parental controls will you use?
Remember that you can use technical tools like parental controls and filters. Ensure that your child knows about privacy settings on social media apps.
Safety starts with you. You can help your child by simply setting a good example online. It’s important to show them what safe sharing looks like.
Innocent searches sometimes reveal not so innocent results. Parental controls can be used to block this upsetting or harmful content, control in-app purchases or manage how long your child spends online. And the good news is parental controls are really easy to set up.
For more on Parental controls- Visit nspcc.org.uk/controls
Age Restrictions for Social Media Platforms:
- Age 13 – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Reddit, Snapchat, Secret
- Age 14 – LinkedIn
- Age 16 – Whatsapp
- Age 17 – Vine, Tinder
- Age 18 – Path
- Age 18 (13 with parents permission) – You Tube, Foursquare, We Chat, Keek, Flickr, Kik
The NSPCC have teamed up with 02 to provide excellent information and advice for parents, as well as a free online safety helpline. They have also produced an app/site, on which they have reviewed the most popular apps and websites young people are using; including age ratings and how easy it is to report a problem: www.net-aware.org.uk. Parents can also choose to sign up to the Net-aware newsletter, for up-to-date information via e-mail.
The NSPCC has a campaign called ‘Share Aware’ to help your child stay safe on social networks, apps and games. Their downloadable ‘A parents’ guide to being Share Aware’ is particular useful for parents of children aged 8-12, who are starting to do more online.
Think u know: www.thinkuknow.co.uk
Think U Know is an education programme provided from the National Crime Agency’s CEOP Command. It has a range of useful information and advice for parents and carers about keeping their child safe online and advice if you are concerned about your child.
Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is the only recognised organisation in the UK operating an internet ‘Hotline’ for the public and IT professionals to report their inadvertent exposure to potentially illegal content online.
Its aim is to minimise the availability of potentially illegal internet content, specifically:
- child sexual abuse images hosted anywhere in the world
- criminally obscene content hosted in the UK
- incitement to racial hatred content hosted in the UK
You can report online sexual abuse and content, as well as inappropriate chat or behaviour towards a child online, from the IWF website. If you see an image of child abuse on the web, please report it at: www.iwf.org.uk
Internet Matters: www.internetmatters.org
Internet Matters is a not-for-profit organisation working with online safety experts to provide advice and information for parents to keep their children safe online.
It has an excellent interactive tool which guides you step by step through setting up parental controls on all the different devices in your home, as well as video tutorials about specific topics of concern.
Parent Zone: www.theparentzone.co.uk
Parent Zone provides up-to-date content on a variety of parenting concerns, including online safety. Schools can also sign up to host expert articles from CEOP and Parent Zone on their school website, for free: http://parentinfo.org/
UK Safer Internet Centre: Advice for parents and carers visit
A partner organisation of UK Safer Internet Centre, Childnet has a wealth of resources, including; leaflets, conversation starters and online storybooks; ‘Digi-ducks Big Decision’ (storybook) is available to buy from this website, or can be downloaded for free.
Get Safe Online: www.getsafeonline.org
Get Safe Online covers a lot of practical, technical information on protecting families and computers against fraud, identity theft, viruses and many other problems encountered online.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) are a national policing organisation which specialises in investigating grooming and sexual abuse online. Their educational website: www.thinkuknow.co.uk is suitable for children aged 4-16 and has a specific section with advice for parents/carers. The ‘Click CEOP’ report button provides a means of reporting abuse online.