Internet Safety is all about keeping your child safe from the extra hazards posed nowadays from access to the internet via laptops, tablets, smartphones etc.
Children are getting younger and younger when they access the internet , in the UK this is about 8 years of age. Also the use of mobile devices (laptops, tablets and smartphones) means it is often no longer easy for parents to monitor children's activities.
Even though Facebook only allows (in theory) users 13 years old and older, in practice, children often setup accounts behind their parents back or sometimes even with their blessing and many register typically from ages 9-12.
Parents are not always aware how to protect their children since technology is moving so fast and children are therefore are too often being left to their own devices with no major restrictions leaving them to enter the internet which resembles the wild west in terms of regulations.
Online dangers include:
- Viewing disturbing & inappropriate content
- Chatting to strangers online and being lured into meeting up via "Grooming"
- Giving out personal info
- Making/sending indecent or illegal images or video
- Getting given a bad reputation online
- Becoming addicted to spending time online
- Viruses & Hacking
Internet Safety Tips (e-safety)
What Parents Can Do
- Ensure you are up to speed with the latest gadgets and only give your child access to items when you think they are ready. If they already have them then show an interest and ask them to teach you!
- Set up proper security, parental controls and boundaries of use on all internet & phone equipment. Review the settings are still in place regularly. Children can circumvent these.
- Make sure your child knows they should report anything they find as disturbing to you and the key thing is to promise (and keep it) not to judge them - even if they searched for it (sometimes kids search for rude words, it's natural, but the results are sometimes quite shocking)
- Tell your child you will monitor emails & texts before you agree to give them gadgets and explain the reasons why. Then make sure you do monitor. It is not uncommon for children to enter and view some extremely unsavoury and disturbing images at a young age.
- Make sure your child knows all the rules of Cyber-bullying : see our article 'SAFETY FROM BULLYING'
- Train your kids never to post pictures online and advise your child not to use the webcam and let them know the safety reasons for doing so. Let them know even if they send pictures to friends they could get misused online and there is very little you can do about it.
- Teach your kids not to give out any personal info (name, school, address, age, phone number, whether they are alone in the house etc.)
- Train your kids never to meet up in real life with people they chat to online
- Make sure your kids only play on age-appropriate online games
- Make sure your kids don't enter chat rooms : these often have a sexual overtone
- Let your kids know about copyright and not to distribute copyrighted material
- Tell your kids never to discuss sex online : this attracts all the wrong sort of attention
- Make sure your kids know that some people create online identities completely different to their actual one in order to be mean and try to meet up and harm them
- Try to come to some sort of negotiated agreement on Social Networking Sites such as Facebook (i.e. what age they can join). There will be a lot of peer pressure to join but try to agree a reasonable age that you're both happy with. This will be a compromise. Then learn it together and make sure you know how to correctly setup all privacy info and settings that are age appropriate. Review these settings regularly as some children change to get more 'likes'. This is potentially disastrous. In theory you must be 13 to join Facebook. In practice, kids much younger tend to lie about their age either with or without their parents' consent.
- Teach your child the 3 simple rules of internet 'Zip it, Block it, Flag it'.
- Zip it : don't give personal info
- Block it : Block out people who send nasty messages or images
- Flag it : flag up any disturbing, mean or offensive nature you see online to a trusted adult
- Watch various online training videos first on your own about online safety then consider watching them again with your child if you think the info is ok for them
What Kids Can Do
- Work with rather than against your parents and realise that the internet is a dangerous place and it is not all fun and games. So appreciate your parents' concerns and try to compromise with their requirements.
- Never download any software without your parents permission. This could give someone access to all your families personal data
- Never give out personal info to anyone (name, address, age, phone number) and never post pictures of yourself
- If you feel uncomfortable, stop and tell a trusted adult e.g. your parents for advice
- Never agree to meet up and never discuss meeting up with anyone. Remember even if the person says they are a 13-year old boy, they could be a 60 year old man pretending to a young boy so you will meet up. Report any conversations about meeting immediately.
- If anyone starts being mean then end the conversation right away and tell an adult
- Never be mean to anyone online
- Don't ever use your parents credit card to pay for items