Children's Online Safety

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13 Jan 2016, 09:38 AM Karen Ormiston

Your child may have received a new Internet enabled technology piece for Christmas and whilst the online world presents a myriad of opportunities for children to learn, socialise, explore, play games and have fun, it also presents a range of Internet safety and security issues. It is important you and your children are aware of issues in the online realm and ways in which you both can overcome potentially challenging issues.

This blog article subsequently outlines ways in which you can help to keep your children safe online.

  • Familiarise yourself with the technology your child is using

Children and young people spend an average of 12 hours a week online (NSPCC) across various devices, and it can be difficult to keep up with the wide range of sites and devices that young people use. The UK Safer Internet Centre has compiled a Parent’s Guide to Technology which outlines some of the most popular devices across tablets, smartphones and gaming, and highlights the safety tools available on each device.

  • Familiarise yourself with the apps and websites your child is using

There are over 1 million apps available, with thousands of new apps being released per day.

Whilst apps can enhance your child’s online experience, it is important that they are using age appropriate apps and do not unwillingly get themselves into danger online.

Internet Matters’ Parents’ Guide to Apps outlines popular apps across social networking, chatting and entertainment and decoy, highlighting any risky situations that may be apparent across such apps.

As a guide, Internet Matters also list age-appropriate apps that will encourage your child to get the most out of the Internet.

  • Familiarise yourself with online issues

In order to learn about the range of online issues your child could potentially face when surfing the net, Internet Matters outline key Online Issues. Advice on approaching such matters with your child and ways in which you both can deal with the issues covered is also provided. Topics covered include cyber bullying, online grooming, sexting and self-harm.

  • Have ongoing conversations with your children

It is important to have regular conversations with your children about their online activity to help ensure that they make smart choices to stay safe online.

Ask your children to tell you about the sites they like to visit and what they enjoy doing online?

Ask them about how they stay safe online. What tips do they have for you, and where did they learn them?

As they develop, their interests and curiosities grow, and they will search wider. It is advisable to continually establish what your children are looking at online and what may or may not be appropriate for them to view.

In regularly speaking to your children, it will also give them the opportunity to raise anything they might be curious or worried about, or anything that they may have seen online which they find upsetting.

The NSPCC’s Talking to your Child About Staying Safe Online outlines comprehensive advice on starting the conversation and what to do if you or your child is worried.

CyberSense provides an interactive platform to help parents talk to their children about e-safety issues. The app includes a two player quiz which introduces e-safety issues and encourages the child to think about what they would do if they were faced with different situations online; from cyberbullying to sharing content with someone they do not know. Once in play mode, parents can pause the app to discuss certain issues with their child and/or to learn about the topic more themselves.

  • Decide if you want to use parental controls

Available on most Internet-enabled devices and entertainment platforms, parental controls enable you to help keep your child safe online through controlling your child’s online activity.

Parents can set age appropriate controls which can:

         ·            Filter and block content you don’t want your child to see – such as pornography

         ·            Limit the time spent online and which time of day they access the Internet

         ·            Block outgoing content to prevent your child sharing personal information online and via email

         ·            Set different profiles so that each member of the family can access content that is appropriate to them.

Internet Matters provide a step-by-step, interactive guide to Setting up Parental Controlsacross your home broadband, various devices, entertainment platforms (including BBC iPlayer and YouTube), gaming (for example, PS4 and Xbox One) and mobile networks.

  • Decide if you want to use safety tools on web browsers and social networks

Web browsers are typically the gateway to the Internet and for many, the first website that appears on going online on a PC or laptop. Social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are very popular with young people.

The UK Safer Internet Centre provides information and advice on the safety features and settings available on web browsers and social networks which can help you manage access to age-inappropriate content, report concerns or protect privacy.

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