Online Safety - Information for Parents
Keeping your Children Safe
You keep your children safe in the real world. Here are some things you may want to do to help your children 'Stay Safe' in the online world:
Set ground rules and with younger children agree which websites they can visit. Remember these will vary depending upon the ages of your children.
Agree time limits and regular breaks. Remember letting children play video games just before bedtime may stop them sleeping and have an impact on their learning.
Find out how to set the parental controls and safe search. Consider buying parental monitoring/control software for younger children. Remember none of these are 100% effective and supervision is always needed.
Check the home page of your children's favourite social network, game and so on. This will give you an overview of the website and its suitability.
Spend 30 minutes watching your children play an online game so that you can see the content and be happy that it is suitable for them.
Check the age ratings of games at PEGI. Remember video games ratings are all about the content and not the difficulty of the game.
Say NO to your child playing any game that has a rating of 18 years and above or using websites that you think are unsuitable.
Talk you children about their privacy settings and ask them to show you how to change these settings. Encourage your children to only have online friends that know in the real world.
Tell your children what to do if they ever feel frightened or scared when online or using their mobile phone. It is important that your children know they can always talk to you and you will help them (you may not know the answer but by talking to the school, other parents, ThinkUknow FAQs, mobile phone provider and so on you will be able to find a solution.
Visit ThinkUknow and look at the parents' section. Show your child the 'Report Abuse' button and together click to see the advice and links.
It can happen online, in organisations or in public places. Children can be groomed by people they know, strangers and people who are only a little bit older than they are.
Signs of grooming are:
secretive use of technology
having unexplained gifts
having a much older ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’
unexplained health problems
being fearful of going out
going missing from home or school
The process often begins online by an adult pretending to be someone they’re not, for example saying they are the same age as the child online. They usually target children who are flirtatious and have open profiles or those who have low self esteem.
Once they’ve established trust groomers will often isolate the child from friends or family and making the child feel dependent on them. They will often introduce 'secrets' and will blackmail and bribe the child in order to get what they want. More information on grooming can be found here.
It is something you should talk about with your child before it happens. Ideally when they are moving from primary to secondary school, and regularly thereafter.
This type of bullying is very common and is continuously changing, as new Apps and technology is created. It is most often carried out through the use of mobile phones. Being the target of these messages is the most common form of online bullying. Cyberbullying does not require face to face contact, it can occur at any time (day or night).
This type of bullying can happen to anyone. It’s always wrong and it should never be overlooked or ignored. You know your child better than anyone else. It means you are best placed to identify and deal with any cyberbullying they may encounter.
What if my Child is Being Bullied Online?
Praise your child for coming to speak to you about the problem. Try to stay calm and not overreact. Reassure your child by reminding them that many people have had similar experiences.
Listen supportively to your child. If they come to you looking for help, they have shown that they trust in you. Be careful not to damage this trust by becoming angry. At the same time you should make it clear that in order to help them you may have to talk with their teachers, other parents or the police.
What Advice Should I Give my Child?
Don’t Reply - this can made the bullying worse
Keep the Messages - it may be important as evidence (use screen grabs)
Block the Sender to prevent further contact
Report Problems to the website/social media site using the tools provided. Consider seeking support from school and the police if necessary.
Device Safety Settings and Network Security
Parental controls can help you to plan what time of day your child can go online and how long for, create content filters to block inappropriate content and manage the content different family members can see.
You can set up controls on:
mobiles, tablets and computers
film, music and TV subscriptions
wifi and being away from home
social media apps and games
smart devices in the home
Spending some time when new services and devices are brought into the home is a good investment. Keep passwords and information about settings in a secure place so that you can refer back to it in future.
It is important to remember that filtering and monitoring will only protect children on the devices that they use in school and ones that you set up. On public wifi networks and other devices they may encounter risks. Giving children strategies to know what to do then they see unwanted content or face unknown contact is critical in developing online life skills and will build on the work that we do in school.
For information on specific services and tools to set devices and services up safely, see the following:
- Understand young people's motivations for sending nude selfies.
- Plan to respond positively and constructively to an incident in which their child has shared a nude selfie.
- Gain confidence and skills in initiating preventative conversations.
- Identify risky behaviours or situations and know where to seek help.
- Know how to get help if a child is at risk after sharing an image.
Agree a clear set of rules with your child on technology use in the home. Talk to your child on when and where you think it is appropriate to use screens.
Agree times when technology is allowed and when they are not allowed in the home. Do as you say. Modelling behaviour is the most powerful way you can influence your child’s behaviour.
Restrict the use of computers and devices in the bedroom. Depending on the age of your child you may want to set a curfew or ban devices from the bedroom completely. Buy an alarm clock for your child’s bedroom and charge their phones and devices in your room or downstairs at night time. This can be a helpful way of giving them a break from the internet.
Try not to rely on technology too much to keep the kids amused. It can be easy to encourage them to pick up the tablet or play a game on the computer to keep them occupied.
Encourage your child to have a healthy balance. Experts say time spent online should not affect sleep, exercise or time with family.
Don’t have screens always on in the background. Turn off TVs and computers when not in use, these can be distracting for kids if they are trying to participate in another activity.
Finally, join in! Why not set some time aside to play your child’s favourite computer game and discover the online world together.
Many children will want to start using social media at a young age, and often a lot younger than the ages recommended by many platforms of either 13 or 16 years old. Knowing when to allow it is a common worry for parents.
Some parents give permission to their underage-children to set up accounts on social networking services and it’s easy to get past their age checks. The pressure to ‘fit in’ and/or to ‘be popular’ can be intense. Ultimately it is up to you to make a decision about when is the right time for children to have accounts.
Social Networking Tips
Remain calm when talking to them about their use of social media - if they feel they can talk about their online habits with you, without the threat of being disconnected, it will lead to more honesty in the long run.
Treat each social media platform or app separately, they all have different benefits and risks - click here for the latest guides. Regularly review the app and social networking privacy settings as they constantly change.
Ask them to set profiles to ‘private’ so that only friends can see what they post. Also let them know that even with the tightest privacy controls, content posted online can be easily copied and shared with others without their consent. Open profiles are also allow children to be targets for predators.
Sometimes, children are keen to accept as anybody ‘friends’. Talk to them about who they can trust and give examples of 'people they know well in the physical world'.
Make sure that they know NOT to reply to any unwanted or unsolicited messages. Some scam artists or predators use messages to draw responses from young people and then target them.
Ask your child about what they think is okay to post/share online. The best advice parents can offer their children is to THINK before they post. Encourage your child to: Ask themselves... is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Illegal? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?
Remind your child to close any old social media profiles and accounts they may have signed up to.
If something does go wrong online, it is very important to reassure your child that you are there to help and support them.
Online profiles and posts can follow children around in adult life - encourage your child to make a positive impact. Whether it’s starting a blog, raising awareness for something they care about or just being supportive of people by leaving positive comments. This activity will help them to form good habits for adult life.
Gaming and Gambling
They will often chat with others via headsets / microphones using livestream, social media and messaging platforms such as Twitch and Discord. Using online currency to buy games or in game purchases is common and gambling using in game virtual items or betting on games is also common.
Some of the significant risks faced by young people who game can include addiction, exposure to violent content, bullying, griefing / trolling and contact with people who they don't know.
Grooming through online games is often overlooked however getting to know youngsters when their guard is down because they are focusing on game play is common. Many platforms such encourage multiple players with little or no moderation or player sign up.
Gaming and Console Tips
Talk to your child about the games that they want to play with their friends - discuss the age ratings and how they relate to the content of the game. The age rating system is provided by PEGI and gives an overview of individual games which can help you to decide if it's appropriate. Their website is here.
Consider setting limits on the amount of time a child can spend playing games, make sure these are clear and that you agree them together.
Set up the privacy and security settings of games and consoles.
All major games consoles allow you to set limits on how long a young person can play, and prevent them from speaking to unknown players. It's a good idea to explore these settings before your child plays the game. Most will also allow you to report other players who behave inappropriately.
Look out for changes in behaviour and gaming habits as this may be a sign of bullying or other problems that your child is having. Encourage them to talk to you is they have any concerns.
CEOP Think You Know - http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/
Parent Zone Parent Guides - https://parentzone.org.uk/advice/parent-guides
BBC Own It - https://www.bbc.com/ownit
CEOP - http://ceop.police.uk/
Internet Matters - http://www.internetmatters.org/