Keeping your child safe
Helping your child stay safe online
There is helpful information on keeping your children safe online on the Think U Know website.
Vodafone also provides information on Digital Parenting on their website, including a useful magazine that provides lots of hints and tips for parents who feel baffled by their child's digital world. The site also has a series of 'how to guides' that show you how to set up safe search on google, use the privacy settings on facebook etc. Information is broken down to suit different age groups.
The BBC's webwise pages also contain useful advice.
From a child protection viewpoint, the internet, social media and mobile technologies expose children to a great many risks that they did not face in the past. It's really important that you and your children learn how to manage these risks and stay safe and in control - so that your children can enjoy the benefits of these technologies and manage the downside.
The Women's Support Project has information on how issues such as sexting, sexual grooming and how pornification of our culture is affecting childhood. These booklets are not for children, but alert adults to dangers they should be aware of.
The key to helping your children stay safe online is to be interested and always encourage your children to communicate with you. Show them you understand how important technology is to them and reassure them that they can come and talk to you about anything that's troubling them.
There is a lot to take in but here is a checklist to get you started:
- Most parents find their kids know a lot more about social media, online games and virtual worlds and using mobile technologies than they do. But don't feel intimidated! Find out as much as you can from websites such as the ones above, and ask your kids to show you how things work. So have a go with the sites your child enjoys if you have not done so already, by downloading music, setting up a facebook profile or playing games on their nintendo.
- Don't use technology as a babysitter - it's important you have a good handle on the things your chlldren are taking part in online.
- Don't be afraid to set boundaries and rules, especially for young children. Your child's online reputation will follow them forever, and it's never too young to start.
- Make the most of parental controls, privacy controls and safe search options - the how to guide's above will show you what to do.
- Remind older brothers and sisters that the websites they are using might not be appropriate for their young brothers and sisters. Ask them to look out for them and help them keep safe online.
- As they grow up, talk to your children about difficult subjects like cyberbullying, sexting, copyright infringement and explain that if anything they see online worries them, to let you know.
Here is the advice on online safety in our Young People's Advice Zone.