Online Safety - What are the risks and what can I do about it?
Information for Parents
Whilst the internet is a wonderful tool for learning, children need to know how to use it safely. The best comparison is to compare internet use with swimming. You wouldn't let your child into a pool unless they were either supervised by you or knew how to swim. It is the same with internet use.
School has powerful filters which removes much of the content which is unsuitable but we show the children how to stay safe and there are always adults around. Statistically it is when children are at home and the system is unfiltered that children are at the greatest risk.
Therefore it is always best if you can directly supervise your children when they are using the internet.
Digital Parenting is a fantastic resource for parents and families in keeping children safe. They have tips on how to make sure settings are set for maximum privacy, how to set up parental controls on devices and advice on a whole range of issues. If there is one site that all parents MUST visit, this is it!
Check out this fantastic video made by children for children and parents...CLICK HERE.
The online risks to your children can be split into four groups.
Social Networking or Question and Answer Sites
For most of these sites, the age at which they can be used is 13. For children the online world and the real world are the same and many enter into conversations online with no knowledge of who they are talking to. It is critical if you are to let your children use these sites that privacy settings are appropriate and the advice is don't let them use them where you can't see them.
This is one of the most misunderstood risks and potentially where our children are most vulnerable. I'm afraid the days of man v machine are old hat now and because gaming devices are connected to the internet either by a wired connection or wirelessly, it is possible to compete with people from all over the globe. There have been examples of grooming online using gaming and more often it is used as a tool for cyber bullying. Leaving your child alone with the X Box sounds harmless enough but do you know who they are communicating with?
Often the communication is with a stranger. Would you be happy with your child talking to a stranger alone in real life?
This is another area of ignorance for most adults but these Apps also allow children to communicate freely with the wider world. Do you know who your child is talking to? Of course these Apps can be used by smartphones and small wireless devices such as iPods. Good advice would be to make sure you know where your child's mobile device is before they go to bed.
Skype is a wonderful tool for keeping in touch with family and friends in this country and abroad but offenders are known to hack into accounts and access children visually this way. Does your child know what to do to get help if this happens? Another good reason for mobile devices and laptops not to be in bedrooms.
"So these are the risks but how do I get help and training as these technologies are new to me?"
The UK Safer Internet Centre has some great advice and resources and you can access it by clicking on the logo.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Agency works with the Police to apprehend online offenders who target children and young people.
To access their website click the logo....
Within the CEOP website there are some great resources which are available to use with your children under the "Think you Know" heading.
These resources are available by clicking the logo here....
Some useful websites are:
ThinkUKnow - learn how to protect your child whilst they are online