Staying safe online

What you can do

There are lots of ways to communicate including pictures, videos and messages. As a parent or carer it is important to understand how the internet works, and that anyone can add information, images and videos at any time. It also means that there is nothing stopping children watching things that are aimed at adults.

Talking with your child about staying safe online

It’s important to help your child understand the internet and its dangers. You can help them do this by talking to them about the following key points:

  • People you don’t know are strangers – they may not be who they say they are
  • Keep your personal information private. You don’t need to tell people your full name, age, school or address
  • Trust your instinct - If your child gets an ‘uhoh’ feeling in their tummy about something that is happening online or on social media tell an adult that they trust or report it.
  • Be nice to people, the same as you would in school or out and about

Staying safe online

It is important as a parent that you know how to keep your child safe online by blocking upsetting or harmful content they may see.

If you have specific concerns

Find the right time and place – make sure you are both comfortable and won’t be interrupted

Let your child know why you are worried – be honest and tell them what is worrying you and what you have noticed to make you feel worried about them

Give them time to talk, it can sometimes feel easier to fill the silence but your child may need time to open up

What if my child doesn't want to talk?

You can’t force them to talk but don’t give up. Try again at another time. Remember to be patient and ready to talk if they change their mind. Identify a safe person they could talk to that is not their parent – sometimes young people may find it easier to ask someone that isn’t you.

Younger children

Children of all ages enjoy using technology. Many children are able to go online and play games, make video calls to family members, watch videos and their favourite TV shows and even ask Siri or Alexa to play their favourite song!

Lots of children have their own tablets and mobile phones or are able to use their parent’s or friends.

E-Safety means making sure that the ways which children and young people use the internet, mobile phones or social media to communicate are safe.

Some tips for things you can do to help keep your children safe on the internet:

• Be with younger children when they are online, this way you can see what they are doing and are available to help if they get into any trouble.

• If you are worried about a website or app they are looking at, ask them to show you it. This can help start conversations about worries you may have. By talking about it you normalise the topic. Talk about it openly and regularly - the internet and technology are something that your children are surrounded by and it is safer for you all to understand it.

• Parental controls can be used to block upsetting or harmful content that your child may see online, control in-app purchases or manage how long your child spends online, you can install them on mobile phones, tablets, computers, laptops and games console.

Older children

Young people enjoy using technology. Many regularly go online to play games, use apps, make video calls to friends or family members, watch videos and their favourite TV shows or films and listen to music!

Remember whilst most young people have their own tablets, computers and mobile phones or are able to use their parent’s or friends and can regularly communicate with people that they know and have met face-to-face or people they have met online.

Teenagers are risk takers, it is in their nature and as parents this is something we are unable to stop. Instead it is important to get involved and play an active part in their online lives. Talk about issues that may occur online. Normalise the topics, talk about them openly and regularly. The internet and technology are something that your children are surrounded by and it is safer for you all to understand it.

It may feel embarrassing, but by making the subjects less secretive your child will be more likely to come to you for help and support if needed.

Who can help?

For advice about younger children, parents can text a health visitor on Parentline, 07507 331456.

For children aged 11-19, you can encourage them to text ChatHealth for advice from a school nurse on 07507 331450.

If you are concerned that your child is in immediate danger call 999

 

Links and additional information

NSPCC, keeping children safe online

Child Exploitation and Online Protection command

Internetmatters.org, advice by age

Trusting myself, trusting my selfie (a film for parents)

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