With the summer holidays upon us and our summer holidays still undecided as to whether they will go ahead, free time is of abundance right now which means more screen time for many young people. Whether this is catching up with the latest apps, keeping in touch with school friends or playing games.
For parents and carers, we all want our children to be safe online and here with are some ways in which to help you do this.
Talk about what they are doing online
Show interest in what they are doing and enjoy doing online. Ask to join in with the games that they are frequenting. Showing interest if what they are doing can open positive discussions making them feel more at ease if they want to talk to you about something they see or hear online that may upset them. It is imperative that they know that they can talk to you about anything without fear of being reprimanded.
Get to know what they are doing
As a parent/carer our job is to keep our children safe, be it on the outside world as well as the ‘techno’ world. Familiarise yourself with what they are doing and what it is they enjoy about the apps, games and services they are using.
Social Media has made a massive impact in everyone’s lives. With the current situation a lot more time is being spent at home and online and these social media apps allow your children to keep in touch with their friends and chat, share photos and videos. To allow for your child to use these sites safely, educate yourself on how to use the blocking features on your child’s devices and the apps that they use. Learn how to report content that is deemed ‘harmful’ whether this is harassing an individual, violence or pornography. Use this link below to help guide and assist you.
Utilise the privacy settings on sites where your child can post content, so this is only available for their friends to see. Make sure that the account is set to private, and if people request to ‘be their friend’, get your child to talk to you so that you can see who is requesting. If in doubt decline them.
Many of the social sites that young children are frequenting daily are all about sharing and uploading photos and videos of what they are doing. Whilst this may seem totally innocent to them, it can instantly pose a threat without you or them knowing.
Personal information can be hidden within these photos, allowing the people that are able to view them to see and gather information on you and your family. Be it from the school that your child attends by their school uniform, to phone numbers shown around dog collars. These little snippets can be huge giveaways of people’s personal information.
All of this freely given information can be moulded together for people to then use to gain a ‘bigger picture’ about your child.
If you believe or know that your child has posted a picture of themselves containing sexualised poses or nudity talk to them to find out why they did this and explain about sharing this kind of content. Get the photo removed from the site that they have shared it on.
Below are some guides for the specific channels that are predominantly used for sharing imagery and videos.
If they inform you or you believe that someone is pressuring your child to remove their clothes or pose in a sexual manner, then you need to report them to CEOP. The same applies if you believe that someone is chatting to your child online about sex, asking to meet with your child and generally making them feel unsafe.
Remember it is difficult for your child to openly speak about these things that could be happening to them. They may feel embarrassed or even they have done something wrong or fear that they will get into trouble. Always reassure your child that they have nothing to fear by speaking with you and that they most definitely will not get into trouble.
Most importantly have fun whether you are at home or abroad and stay safe this summer!
Here are some useful links that you may find helpful:
To encourage open conversations: https://www.childnet.com/parents-and-carers/have-a-conversation
A guide to privacy settings on different sites: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre/social-media-guides
Activity packs to support online safety: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/professionals/our-views/onlinesafetyathome-resources/