What is my child doing online through social networking?
Children and young people go online to connect with friends, and make new ones, to browse the internet for information, chat with others and play games. They may:
- Search for information or content on search engines like Google and Bing
- Share images and watch videos through websites or mobile apps like Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, YouTube and Whatsapp
- Use social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter
- Write or reply to messages on forums and message boards
- Play games alone or with others through websites, apps or game consoles
- Chat with other people through online games, webcams, social networks and tools like Whatsapp.
- When online, children and young people can learn new things, get help with homework, express themselves creatively and connect with friends and family. There are also risks, but by understanding and talking about the dangers you can help keep your child safe online.
What are the risks that my child could face?
Understanding the potential risks and encouraging safe and responsible use of the internet are crucial steps towards ensuring the safety of your child. Depending on the role that your child takes, whether the recipient, participant or actor, there are a number of potential risks.
Keeping your child safe online:
The internet is used every day in almost every home, we all know how useful it can be for research, gaming, keeping in touch with friends and even homework. But, as a parent, do you know what your child is researching, who they are playing games with and who their ‘online friends are.
A few tips to help keep them safe are:
- Ensure you know who they are speaking to.
- Do they know all their friends ‘online’ or are they “friends of friends”?
- Do they have internet access all night in their bedrooms – do they need it?
- Emphasise the danger of meeting someone they have only spoken to ‘online’.
- Cyber-bullying is increasing – it is easier to type/text nasty things than say them face-to face.
- Know how to report incidents and block unwanted contacts.
Parents and carers play a key role in supporting children to learn about how to stay safe online, and they are one of the first people children turn to if things go wrong. We know it can be difficult to stay on top of the wide range of sites and devices that young people use, so we hope that the following advice helps.
- Have ongoing conversations with your children about staying safe online
- Carry out spot checks on the devices that your children use, looking at images, videos, and social media
- Use safety tools on social networks and other online services.
- Use parental controls on your home internet
- Understand devices and the parental control tools they offer. A useful guide can be found on the UK Safer Internet Centre’s website.