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Our Favourite Ways to Keep Children Safe Online

How do you keep your children safe in the age of the internet? It's a question many parents face and the answer is fairly easy: talk to them!

 

As many parents know, children start using the internet from a very young age, and this can have a positive influence on their development, such as the ability to research topics that interest them. However, internet access can also pose risks, such as the possibility of cyberbullying and potentially harmful content. It's important to talk to your children about these risks and make sure they know they can come to you if they are unsure of anything they come across online

Explore sites and apps together

Start the conversation - ask your child about which apps and sites they like to visit. Write them down and go through them together. Make positive comments about websites that look interesting and don't overreact if you spot something that doesn't seem age-appropriate. Have a discussion about which sites you and they feel are appropriate or not. Even if disagreements occur, you should still be ready to discuss this with your child positively. When you come to an agreement on which sites they can visit, let them know they can talk about it again with you whenever they like.

Ask about things they might see online which make them feel uncomfortable 

Due to the vastness of the internet, your child might come across content that upsets them. Find out what it is and why it has bothered your child. Reassure them that they are safe and you will protect them but you can only do this if they are honest with you. Remind them that sometimes images and videos may not even be real. If they are old enough show them how to report or block sites, and how to change settings on browsers and apps to block out offensive content. Educate them on cyberbullying and trolling and tell them you'll help them if they're ever victimised online. Talk about how they can stay safe on social networks and that you can block someone if they are bullying them or certain types of content. Never make them feel guilty for stumbling across something unsuitable - remind them that you're there to look out for them.

Make sure your children are aware of these 10 things before using the internet:

1) Never share personal information such as your address, email address or mobile number

2) Think about what you're posting, especially when it comes to photos or videos. Once you put something online, anyone can access it, even after you delete it

3) Use strict privacy settings and parental controls

4) Never share your passwords with anyone

5) Don't make friends with people you don't know in real life

6) Never meet up with people you have only spoken to over the internet. Tell a trusted adult if someone online suggests meeting up

7) Remember that not everyone online tells the truth about who they are

8) Think carefully about what you say online and how it may be interpreted by others

9) Respect other people's opinions. Even if you don't agree with them, it doesn't give you the right to verbally attack them

10) If you see something on the internet that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried: shut down the website, turn off your computer and tell a trusted adult immediately

Internet language to consider when talking to your children

Spending: Online games sell extra things like power ups, new levels etc. and online streaming sites may charge you. Bills are easy to run up and children may not realise they are spending money if they don't physically see the transaction.

Cyberbullying: It's possible that your child may be a victim of online abuse, from both people they know in real life and people they don't know. However, it's also important to remember that they might be the cyberbully themselves so make sure your child is aware of what constitutes cyberbullying - sometimes comments that are meant to be taken "as a joke" can hurt others' feelings.

Reputation: Children and teens often use social media to fit in but this could lead them to post comments or images that could harm their online reputation and even affect their job prospects in the future. Make sure your child understands the permanent nature of the internet before they post anything and if they would be happy with anyone seeing the content they post.

Privacy: Children must be wary of passing on private information about themselves like their name, age, address, where they go to school etc. as this means that strangers with bad intentions could discover your child's location.

Content: Your child might come across inappropriate or harmful content such as violent images, pornography, dangerous advice and hate material. It's important that they do their best to avoid viewing this content and to tell you if they do. 

Grooming: This is where an adult builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust to exploit them. It's easy for children to become online friends with complete strangers and trust them without really knowing who they are. Make sure your child only befriends people they know in real life, and teach them how to spot signs that they might be a victim of grooming.

 
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