Kids Health

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How To Be Safe Online – Parents’ Guide

How to be Safe Online

In the news this week there have been plenty of reports of children looking at explicit adult material online. There have been shocking stories of kids as young as 11 who have been seeking out pornographic images and one 13 year old was viewing material involving the abuse of other children. Police traced his computer and his name is now on the sex offender’s register.

Does this scare the heck out of you? It’s very frightening for every parent, but fortunately, there are things we can do and plenty of advice available. Some of the best advice found by the Kids-Health team has been developed by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), formed in April 2006, is an organisation that protects children from online abuse and brings prosecutions where neccessary. They have excellent web resources for parents and children to advise on how to be safe online.

Top tips for children under 10:

  • Talk to your child about what they’re up to online. Be a part of their online life; involve the whole family and show an interest. Find out what sites they visit and what they love about them, if they know you understand they are more likely to come to you if they have any problems.
  • Encourage your child to go online and explore! There is a wealth of age-appropriate sites online for your children. Encourage them to use sites which are fun, educational and that will help them to develop online skills.
  • Keep up-to-date with your child’s development online. Children grow up fast and they will be growing in confidence and learning new skills daily. It’s important that as your child learns more, so do you.
  • Set boundaries in the online world just as you would in the real world. Think about what they might see, what they share, who they talk to and how long they spend online. It is important to discuss boundaries at a young age to develop the tools and skills children need to enjoy their time online.
  • Keep all equipment that connects to the internet in a family space. For children of this age, it is important to keep internet use in family areas so you can see the sites your child is using and be there for them if they stumble across something they don’t want to see.
  • Know what connects to the internet and how. Nowadays even the TV connects to the internet. Make sure you’re aware of which devices that your child uses connect to the internet, such as their phone or games console. Also, find out how they are accessing the internet – is it your connection, or a neighbour’s wifi? This will affect whether the safety setting you set are being applied.
  • Use parental controls on devices that link to the internet, such as the TV, laptops, computers, games consoles and mobile phones. Parental controls are not just about locking and blocking, they are a tool to help you set appropriate boundaries as your child grows and develops. They are not the answer to your child’s online safety, but they are a good start and they are not as difficult to install as you might think. Service providers are working hard to make them simple, effective and user friendly.

Plus, for older children:

  • Emphasise that not everyone is who they say they are. Make sure your child knows never to meet up with someone they only know online. People might not always be who they say they are. Make sure your child understands that they should never meet up with anyone they only know online without taking a trusted adult with them.
  • Know what to do if something goes wrong. Just as in the offline world, you want to help your child when they need it. Therefore, it is important to know when and how to report any problem. 

Kids-Health recommend these books for further ideas and advice:

A humorous look at keeping up with the kids online….

And for more ideas about how you can pro-actively support your children online, watch this informative and lighthearted guide:

 With thanks to Thinkuknow

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