The Internet is absolutely amazing! We live in a time where we do so many things on line – communicate with friends, keep in touch with relatives who live far away, watch TV and even buy the weekly shopping! The digital world offers untold opportunities, especially for children and young people. However, there are risks associated with the online world, and for a variety of reasons young people can be more vulnerable to these risks than adults. A key element is family relationships, as we know that support and the engagement of parents and carers provides the best opportunity for keeping young people safe online and helping them manage the risks inherent in the digital world. This page provides guidance on how you can help your child stay safe when using the Internet – especially social media and also what action to take if your child experiences on-line exploitation or bullying.
How can I keep my child safe on-line?
It can be difficult to keep up with all of the new technology that is now available to children and young people. For many adults this represents a big difference from what they experienced as a child and parents can find themselves ill-equipped to offer guidance and support in this area. It is a good idea to set up suitable rules in your house, share them with your children and keep yourself up-to-date.
Simple ideas to try at home include:
- Don’t have the internet switched on after bedtime
- Don’t allow children to use the internet alone in their bedrooms
- Inform your children of information they must not give out online
- Invest in parental control software for all computers in your household
- Introduce a policy whereby all mobile phones remain in the kitchen as opposed to the bedrooms.
Aside from the above, it is important to keep communication channels open and ensure that your child knows that they can come to you if things go wrong or they are worried. If a child is too frightened of being blamed if they confide, the likelihood is that further exploitation will take place and they will be at greater risk – including of bullying and negative impact on their mental health.
NSPCC Share Aware Campaign
This Campaign, relaunched on 16 May, gives parents all the tools they need to have regular and informed conversations with their child about staying safe on-line. Under 20% of parents discuss online safety regularly with their children and the Campaign aims to get every family talking about their child’s life on-line, just as they would about their day at school. Parents can sign up to the Icebreaker e-mail series and become an expert in their child’s online world in 6 weeks, follow four simple steps to keeping children safe online, and watch the NSPCC film ‘Safety advice from a 10 year old’.
Watch out for … Baited Pages
One threat to child safety are baited pages which are private profiles set up across social media that can only be accessed by invitation. These pages are targeting children and young people with a requirement for the person to submit naked pictures of themselves or their peers. These images are then shared. If you or your child comes across any of these pages, they should be reported to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) who can work with Internet providers to remove indecent images and content. You can also report pages and content to the host site (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler) – find out more by visiting Childnet.
What to do if your child as been exploited on-line
If your child tells you that inappropriate images of them have been shared on-line by either themselves or someone else, you need to take action – including making a report:
- Reassure your child that telling you is the best thing they could have done.
- Keep calm and don’t blame – children and young people do make mistakes as part of growing up.
- Make a report to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) – they can help get the images taken down, provide support and guidance – particularly on dealing with bullying.
- Make an indecent content report to the host website e.g. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat – find out more about doing this on the Childnet website.
- Report any criminal content that has been shared – such as child sexual abuse – to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). They can also help if you have issues with getting images removed, provide support and take forward investigations relating to the perpetrator.
- eSafety Leaflet for Parents and Carers (PDF 1.2MB)
- How can you safeguard children from sexting – Virtual College Guide
- Parents Pack – What’s the problem? Lucy Faithfull Foundation (PDF 4MB)
- eSafety Leaflet for Parents and Carers (PDF 1.2MB)
- NSPCC Parents’ Guide to being Share Aware (PDF 1MB)
- Parent Zone – where to report concerns about on-line content
- NSPCC Guide to Keeping Children Safe – Pokémon Go App
- Ask.FM Online Safety Guidance (PDF 604KB)
- Social Media Guidance for Parents and Carers – Keeping Children Safe On-line, NSPCC et al (PDF 105KB)
- Social Media List of Applications and Descriptions – 2017
- MPS Social Media Abbreviation and Emoji Guide (PDF 494KB)
- CEOP – Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) is dedicated to eradicating the sexual abuse of children ages. Amongst a wide range of resources is Play Like Share, which aims to help 8-10 year olds learn how to stay safe from sexual abuse and exploitation. This is where you should report abuse on the Internet or any inappropriate or potentially illegal activity with or towards a child online.
- Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) – removal of child sexual abuse content from the Internet.
- Childnet – a non-profit organisation working with others to “help make the Internet a great and safe place for children”
- The Cybersmile Foundation – cyberbullying charity providing advice and support to anyone being affected by cyberbullying issues.
- Family Services Directory – aims to provide information on all services in Redbridge for children, young people, families and practitioners.
- Think U Know – CEOP online safety centre, where you will find advice and tips for children, adults and professionals of all ages.
- Internet Matters – website for parents and carers on parenting in a digital age.
- Parent Info – specialist guidance for helping parents to keep children and young people safe on-line.
- Channel 4 drama – Cyberbully