Safety online for parents and children

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Keeping safe online – guidance for children and young people

The internet is a great place to check-in with friends, watch live streams, catch-up with YouTube, put together some memes and, if you are feeling adventurous, complete some school work!  But there is another side to the web which can be scary and confusing, not just for you but also your parents. Here are some helpful tips to keep you safe online and enjoy all the great opportunities the internet provides without too much of the worry.

Top tips for staying safe

  • Remember everyone you meet online is a stranger even if they might seem like a friend.
  • Always use a nickname when you log on and never give out any personal details that would allow someone you meet online to contact you. This means full name, home or school address, telephone or mobile number or personal email. It also includes not saying your favourite places to eat or play sport.
  • Never arrange to meet someone you make friends with online alone. They may not be who they say they are. If you are going anyway take an adult you trust and meet in a public place.
  • Try to have your own online conversations in public. People are less likely to hassle you if other people can see you doing it.
  • Accepting emails or opening files from people you don’t really know can get you into trouble - they may contain viruses, nasty messages or annoying links to stuff you don’t want to see.
  • Talk to an adult you know well and ask for help if you’re worried or upset about anything you’ve seen or been sent online.
  • Sometimes things happen online that make us feel worried, scared or upset. Whatever has happened, it is not your fault. The best thing to do is tell an adult you trust how you are feeling and what has happened. They will be able to help you.  There is further information on the Think U Know website.
You can also get help by calling Childline on 0800 1111, or via an online chat with a Childline counsellor. 

Keeping safe online – guidance for parents

The internet and social media are fantastic resources and are an important communication tool for children and young people, giving them access to information, entertainment, and helping build friendships. 

There is, of course, the potential for these platforms to be misused leaving vulnerable groups, children and young people open to abuse. It’s essential to have open, honest conversations with children in your care around staying safe online. 

Starter for TEN

  • Talk to your child and make sure they have someone they trust and can talk to, even it’s not you if something is worrying them online.
  • Explain how and why your child should keep their personal information safe.
  • Check your internet history – it’s not snooping it’s being responsible.
  • Enjoy time with your child online.
  • If you are not sure about an activity online try it for yourself. 
  • Protect passwords.
  • If possible encourage your child to use technology with you or other family members nearby.
  • Understand the platforms and social networking your child is using.
  • Keep your security software up-to-date and use safety settings on your device and those provided by your internet supplier.
  • Set some ground rules for using the internet.

Browser features 

Make use of the built-in security, safety features and privacy settings in your browser. Search engines also offer safety features, for example, ‘Safe Search’ from ‘Google’ there are different options and well worth using.

Protect passwords 

It’s not easy remembering lots of passwords but try to avoid using names, pet’s names and birthdays. Create a ‘master’ password, not real words, and then changes the characters around for different sites.  Some applications manage passwords and some browsers keep track of passwords securely.

Wi-Fi 

If you have a wireless network at home make sure it is secure. Enable wireless encryption to stop your network being visible and make sure your internet security is up to date.

Parental Control Software 

This software lets you choose where your child goes online and stop them from accessing inappropriate materials. Controls change from one platform to another with options you can customise. Some allow you to create safe lists and others require a parent to login to authorise access or download apps and you can set screen time limits but keep in mind no software is 100% and if you are unsure try the site yourself first.

Social networking 

These sites are really popular and can be important in a child's life but they should be used with caution! YouTube, for example, is a great resource and not just for funny cat videoes. Keep in mind if ‘Auto’ play is on your child could start by watching a cute cat but end up on a completely inappropriate subject. If your child has a social network profile under the recommended age they could be viewing inappropriate content.  Account set-up for an underage user will appear as an adult before they turn really 18 giving them full access.

Predators

Statistically this is rare but there have been high profile cases and rightly as parents, you will worry.  Make sure your child understands they should not give out their email, name, address or telephone number to a stranger. It is not okay to arrange to meet someone off online or if someone wants to talk about sex this too is a not acceptable. If your child feels uncomfortable in any way they need to talk to a trusted adult straight away. You can report suspicious activity towards your child at child exploitation online protection service  www.ceop.gov.uk 

Messaging

Firstly make sure your child has a strong password and they do not share passwords, even with friends. Don’t use real names like first and second names and avoid suggestive names. Have a conversation with your child ask them for access to accounts, explain why you want to monitor things and you’re not checking up on them but keeping them safe. Avoid clicking on links this can lead to unsafe sites. Do not respond to emails and messages from people they don’t know. Do not make profiles public, check all settings and always log out!

Photos 

For most of us, we record our daily lives in images and video but we need to protect them from strangers and in some cases peer-to-peer who may not use them how we would like. Ask to see the images your child has created and you can check if images have been sent online or via your mobile statement. Have a conversation about images which are okay and those which are not appropriate.

Shopping online

Online shopping can be great fun but there are a few things to remember make sure your security software is up to date and switched on. Only shop with known sites and make sure when entering personal data, the page you are using is encrypted the web address will start with “https” also look for the padlock icon and the bottom of the browser frame which tell you the site uses encryption and keeps your communication safe. If you receive an email with a link to a shop it is safer to open the site in a browser than use the link.

Resources for Parents

Internet matters provide advice on how to set up devices securely, screen time guidance and how to keep children safe online including cyberbullying and sexting.

Safer Internet Centre has tips, advice, guides and resources to help keep your child safe online.

If you are not familiar with all the social networks, Net Aware provide Your Guide to the social networks your kids use.

Icebreaker emails – designed to help have conversations with your child around online safety. Sign up

For advice on social media, parental controls etc NSPCC Online safety helpline for parents 0808 8005002

O2 stores offer free help and advice on setting up parental controls and ensuring telephone calls are safe for your child.

It is important to have open conversations with your child around online safety, follow the NSPCC Guidance.

Resources to share with your children

What should you do if you have a concern?

If you have a concern contact our safeguarding team or call 0345 143 0199.

You can also directly report any unsuitable material or behaviour to the child exploitation online protection service or the internet watch foundation.

Training and resources for professionals

The Think U Know website has a range of resources and advice to share with parents and carers, as well as information on how to report concerns to CEOP.

Safer Internet Centre has a helpline for professionals and advice centre with various guidance, resources and blogs.

Keeping Children Safe Online (KCSO) will help you develop your knowledge on how children and young people use the internet, and how to help keep them safe from abuse. KCSO is a joint initiative between the NSPCC and CEOP, aimed at any professional working directly with children and young people.

Policy templates and useful articles can be found on the Internet Matters website.

Articles you may find useful

NSPCC - Taking online out of online safety

 Internet matters - vulnerable children in a digital world