Staying safe online

Many parents have concerns over internet safety, however, there are practical steps that parents can take to guide children on how to use the internet safely.

Below are a range of tips for parents and carers to help protect children and young people.

  • ensure that parental controls are on computers/gaming consoles and that internet protection software is up to date on your pc.
  • talk to your child about online safety and the risks involved with talking to strangers on the computer. Tell them to never give out personal details such as home address, school and phone number. Also, tell them that they should never meet up with someone they have met online without an adult being present.
  • as social networking sites are becoming popular with teenagers, remind children to set their Facebook, Bebo, Twitter pages to private. This can be done by: clicking on ‘my accounts’, scrolling down to ‘privacy settings’ and clicking on ‘only friends and networks.’
  • beware - someone online might lie about who they are and information on the internet may not be true. Always check information.
  • talk about viewing inappropriate material online such as sexually explicit images, racist and self harm websites. Also mention that illegal downloading (such as music files/file sharing) can cost you access to the internet if you are caught.
  • many young people use their mobile phones to access the internet. Advise them to keep their Bluetooth on ‘off.’
  • meeting someone you have only been in contact with online can be dangerous. Only do so with your parents or carers permission when someone is with you. Remember online friends are still strangers even if you have been talking to them for a long time
  • cyberbullying is where one person, or a group of friends target their victim online. This can be by sending upsetting or threatening emails, sending hurtful messages using instant messenger or through a chatroom.  Other methods include sending abusive text messages or videos by mobile phones, uploading personal photo’s without the victims permission and sending viruses. Games consoles also give players another way to chat online. This can also be exploited by cyberbullies.

Reporting incidents

Sometimes, children might be pressured to join in on bullying someone else. Remind them that bullying online is just as hurtful as bullying in the real world.

Talk to your child about what to do if they are contacted by a stranger for sexually explicit images or video. This includes if they are asked to send inappropriate pictures or videos of themselves or if they meet someone in person and they are not who they say they are.

You can report these incidents directly on the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) website.

See 'external links' on this page for links to a number of websites with online resources which can give more guidance and advice on how to stay safe online.

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