The internet is such an integral part of children's lives these days. It opens up so many educational and social opportunities, giving them access to, quite literally, a world of information and experiences.
Whether on a computer at school, a laptop at home, a games console or mobile phone, children and young people are increasingly accessing the internet whenever they can and wherever they are.
As you would protect your child in the real world, you will want to make sure that they are safe whatever they are doing. Like learning to cross the road, online safety skills are skills for life. If your child understands the risks and can make sensible and informed choices online, they can get the most from the internet and stay safe whilst doing so – particularly from those people who might seek them out to harm them.
So, how can you protect your child online?
The answer is simple. If you understand the internet and understand what the risks are, there are a number of things you can do that will make your child safer online...
- Help your children to understand that they should never give out personal details to online friends they do not know offline.
2. Explain to your children what information about them is personal: i.e. email address, mobile
number, school name, sports club, arrangements for meeting up with friends and any pictures or
videos of themselves, their family or friends. Small pieces of information can easily be pieced
together to form a comprehensive insight in to their lives and daily activities.
3. Make your children aware that they need to think carefully about the information and pictures
they post on their profiles. Inform them that once published online, anyone can change or share
these images of them.
4. It can be easy to forget that the internet is not a private space, and as result sometimes young
people engage in risky behaviour online. Advise your children not to post any pictures, videos or
information on their profiles, or in chat rooms, that they would not want a parent or carer to see.
5. If your child receives spam or junk email and texts, remind them never to believe their contents,
reply to them or use them.
6. It's not a good idea for your child to open files that are from people they don't know. They won't
know what they contain - it could be a virus, or worse - an inappropriate image or film.
7. Help your child to understand that some people lie online and that therefore it's better to keep
online mates online. They should never meet up with any strangers without an adult they trust.
8. Always keep communication open for a child to know that it's never too late to tell someone if
something makes them feel uncomfortable.