Police Special Branch colleagues have requested that the attached slide is shared with all schools, in the hope that it can be made available to parents and carers, as it is recognised that children and young people may be particularly vulnerable to the possibility of being exploited or to radicalisation at the current time.
Now that many of us are physically isolated from family members, friends, colleagues and support networks, staying connected online has never been more important. The internet is a fantastic way to socialise, learn, work, play and be entertained but we know there are some risks.
It is important that we consider the safety of our children when we are asking them to work online and I am sure parents and carers will also want to make sure their children are as safe as possible. We ensure you that any links we provide to learning resources are monitored and safe for your children to use. We also understand that they will be using other resources throughout the day, to keep in touch with friends and family or for entertainment.
We have put together a few simple steps to help you to manage safety online.
Ask your child to show you their favourite websites and apps and what they do on them. Listen and show interest and encourage them to teach you the basics of the site or app.
Have a Chat
One of the most effective ways to ensure that your child has a positive experience online is to have an open and ongoing conversation with them. Talk to them about what they do online, and reassure them that if anything happens that they are uncomfortable with, they should not feel embarrassed or afraid to speak to you about it. If your child feel they can talk to you about their online activities without judgement, or fear of consequences, it will lead to more honesty.
If your child is engaging with others online remind them to consider how someone else might feel before they post or share something. If they are considering sharing a photo or video of somebody else, they should always ask permission first.
Set up Parental Controls
Parental controls can help reduce the risk that your child will encounter inappropriate content online. They can be set up on most internet enabled devices and also through your internet service provider. Parental controls can be used in a number of ways, for example to allow your child access to age-appropriate content, or to monitor and block their usage. It is recommended that parents use, and regularly review and update, parental controls across all devices at home.
The use of ‘SafeSearch’ is highly recommended for use with young children. Most web search engines will have a ‘SafeSearch’ function, which will allow you to limit the content your child is exposed to whilst online. Look out for the ‘Settings’ button on your web browser homepage (often shaped like a small cog).
Time Online – Striking a Healthy Balance
There is no right or wrong way to deal with this, bearing in mind that your children are using technology for lots of different reasons – to learn, create, play and interact with others. Every family is different and will have their own ideas on how much time online is too much time. However, it is still important to set clear boundaries to effectively manage screen time. It could be a good idea to set up a family agreement so everyone knows what is expected of them.
Help your child identify adults who can help
Help your child identify trusted adults from different areas of their life such as at home or at school.
Encourage Respectful Communication
Discuss the importance of being respectful to others online, and the impact that their behaviour may have on people. Encourage them to consider the other person’s perspective, and how hurtful remarks or actions could make someone feel. By doing this you are helping your children to understand their own boundaries and level of comfort, it will encourage them to become more responsible and considerate users of the internet.
Some children are using social media platforms to keep in touch with friends and family. They are also documenting and sharing lots of information about their lives online and many may not be fully aware of the potential risks this may have on them. Many social network accounts are ‘public’ by default, meaning that anyone can potentially see your child’s posts or pictures. The majority of these social media services require users to be at 13 years of age to access and use. Please see image below on the age restrictions. This is for the safety of your child and it is important that it is closely monitored.
Net Aware have offered a guide and review of the most popular social networks, apps and games children are using. It identifies the risks and benefits of their use.
Resources you can use at home
The Think U Know website will help you go on the internet in a safe way and tell who to talk to if you are worried. You can also find out about Lee & Kim’s adventures or watch Hector and his friends learning to use computers safely!
These resources are provided by Childnet and are designed for you to use with your children at home.
Children are growing up in a world with a bigger range of online activities than ever before and it is sometimes very hard for both children and adults to know how to stay safe.
Parents/Online Safety Information
Most parents will want to reduce the risks to their children, and remembering to set parental controls can reduce the risks to children, and reduce the risk to parents when children accidentally spend online money! The internet matters website explains this quite well. Online safety is not just about protecting children from some of the dangers of the internet – it is also about helping them manage their use of technology and most of the parental controls allow adults to set a maximum time for the use of a device or app.
Internet Matters is a site paid for by many British companies. It has a lot of good advice on adding parental controls as well as on most aspects of online safety. Parental controls will only help keep children safe. The best safety feature that a child has is their parent or carer. Take the time to talk to your child about the apps and games they are using and don’t be afraid to say no sometimes!
The range of online apps changes on a regular basis and the NSPCC have a site called Net Aware. This provides unbiased up-to-date information on current apps and sites along with advice to parents about dealing with issues.
The NSPCC have teamed up with O2 to provide advice to parents and have a free helpline on 0808 800 5002. They will also give support in any O2 shop – you do not have to be an O2 customer.
ThinkUKnow is the website aimed at children and their parents from the National Crime Agency. It has lots of useful suggestions and advice on how to report issues. It also has lots of games and activities including Jessie and Friends for the younger children and Band Runner for the older ones.
For the youngest children being tricked into sharing pictures can be an issue. LGfL have produced a lovely free video which has some great advice and a very catchy song!
Many children will at times suffer from online bullying. It is really important that they have someone they can talk to and know that it is not acceptable. Most apps and sites will have systems inn place that allow bullying to be reported. Your child’s school may be able to help.
Children can call Childline on 0800 1111 for advice on anything that is worrying them.
Finally since 2015 is has been a criminal offence for an adult to send a message with sexual content to a child (This is Section 67 of the Serious Crime Act 2015). If you are concerned that this might have happened please contact The Police without further using the device. This will help ensure that evidence can be preserved. The Police can be contacted by phone or from the ThinkUKnow website.
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