Online Safety: A Parent's Guide
Children love the internet! It’s a great way for them to keep in touch with friends, play games and find material for homework. Parents and carers can make a huge difference to keeping their child safe online by simply talking to their children about their internet use. Here you can find some quick tips and where to go for further information.
Understanding their internet use
One way you might want to begin the discussion is by asking your child what they most like and dislike about the internet and what their favourite sites are. From this information you can build up a picture as how they are using the internet and the likely risks.
Example: if your child said they like talking to their friends the most, their favourite site is Facebook, and what they dislike the most is people showing off. Try to find out what “showing off” means. This could suggest they have witness friends competing with one another through dares or sharing images.
Understanding their Knowledge
Finding how much they know can be key to determining their risk level. Simply asking the following questions can help you understand how able they are to use common security features:
“Can you show me how I block someone on Facebook?”
“How do I report something I don’t like?”
“Do you know how I can make sure only friends see my posts?”
If they don’t know how to do any of these things show them, or find out together.
Things to explain
Share Aware: talk to your child about what is and isn’t okay to share online including images, personal information and locations. Don’t forget to explain why. Here are some considerations:
Once an image is shared they have no control over who then sees it
Personal information such as phone numbers, date of birth, and address can be used to obtain money or exploit an identity
Sharing a location online is the same as telling someone where you are (are there people who you wouldn’t want to know where you are)
Gaming and Gambling
Many online games are free but offer the chance to buy items such as extra lives or new levels meaning children and young people can run up big bills without realising. As lots of little purchases can quickly add up it is a good idea to ensure that a sign in (with a password only an adult knows) is required before a purchase can be made. Gambling sites have may "strict measures" to make sure that their users are adults, but young people aged 18 and over could be enticed by offers and prizes on gambling websites and build up large debts.
Things to consider
Some Internet Service Providers (ISP) automatically block adult themed content, meaning the customer then needs to decide if they would like to "opt out" of such filtering. Before applying your own filters it is a good idea to find out what websites, if any, are already blocked by your provider.
Important: there has been past cases of content relating to LGBTQ advice, and child abuse support mistakenly being blocked. You may want to check that these websites are accessible to your child.
Setting up parental controls
Parental controls are available on all computers and most smartphones. They allow the main account holder to restrict the times other users can use a device and the type of content they can access. We have complied a list of a few handy guides on how to set up parental controls below. If you are unsure what content is suitable for you child, the Net Aware tool by the NSPCC can help guide you. It features rating and reviews by children and parents of lots of popular websites and apps.
Here we have put together a list of websites and articles that provide tips and useful information for parents.
From pornography and sexting to apps and social networking. Concise information on what to be aware of.
Tips to help you and your child to make the most of the internet.
Your guide to the social networks your kids use. Stay up to date and keep your child safe in today's digital world.
Information, advice and checklist for parents and carers.
Make a report to one of CEOP's Child Protection Advisors
How to stop ISPs, advertisers, and hackers gathering information about your child.
Our pact allows you to block the time used on a device, find where a family member is as well as a parental control app.
Sexting is when a child, young person or adult shares photos or videos of themselves without their clothes on. Often pictures are sent to a boyfriend or girlfriend, often as a way of flirting or experimenting before becoming sexually active. Sometimes sharing a revealing picture or selfie makes them feel good about themselves, and sometimes it’s just a bit of fun Whatever the reason, it’s important for them to understand that once they have hit the send button they have lost control of that picture. Often it goes no further, but in some cases it can be shared to others and have negative repercussions. Find a informative guide from the Virtual College below.
It is important for parents and carers to inform their children that it is illegal to take, hold or share indecent images of anyone under the age of 18 under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and they can be held Criminally Liable. Further information on what parents need to know can be found at CEOP Think - U – Know website.
Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purpose of sexual abuse or exploitation, and often happens online. Children and young people can be groomed online or in the real world, by a stranger or by someone they know – for example a family member, friend or professional.
If you suspect Sexting or Grooming is taking place
If you believe sexting (between those under 18 years of age) and/or grooming is taking place you should contact:
- Buckinghamshire First Response team on 01296 383 962
- your local police child sexual exploitation team on 101
Today’s teenagers and young people don’t go online, they live online. Whether they are completing homework, playing games or chatting with friends on social networking sites, , an internet –linked computer, phone or some other handheld device is constantly within their reach. The distinction between reality and what may be floating in cyberspace has become blurred- so much so that children’s lives are now inextricably bound together. Online bullying is now the fastest growing and most common form of abuse among school children, and sexting in a recent report by the NSPCC is far more prevalent than anyone has imagined. Just as we as parents have to educate our children about safety on the streets we now need to teach them about being safe online. A child may not bully in real life for fear of being found out, but put them behind a screen and a username and they can become someone else entirely.
What children need to know
how to block someone and use their privacy settings
how to report bullying or malicious content
bullying someone online is just as serious as bullying someone in the street