How can you help?
Help your children to understand the difference between the friends they have at school and the friends that they meet online and that they should never give out personal details to online friends they do not know at school etc. Make sure your children are aware of what information about them is personal, such as 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. These can include any small pieces of information can easily be pieced together to form a comprehensive insight in to their lives and daily activities.
Make them aware that they need to think carefully about the information and pictures they post on their profiles and that this inform about them, once published online, anyone can copy, change or share. 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. They need to know not to put online any pictures, videos or information on their profiles, or in chat rooms, that they would not want a parent or carer to see.
If your child receives spam or junk email and texts, remind them never to believe their contents, and not to reply to them or use them. 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.
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.Always keep communication open for a child to know that it’s never too late to tell someone if something makes them feel uncomfortable.
Some simple ways to keep children safe online
Children are inquisitive so it’s important to get to know your child’s online habits. They will look to explore the internet as much as they do the real world. Knowing the sites they go to, the people they meet there and what they do will help to keep children safe.
Stay alert to any sudden changes in mood or appearance, or to any major change in habits or to increased secretiveness. These are often tell-tale signs that something is not right.
Tell your child they can always talk to you or another trusted adult, such as a teacher, if they do end up in some sort of trouble on the internet. Make children aware that there are things on the internet which may distress them.
Spend some time surfing the internet yourself. The more that you know about the internet, the better able you are, in turn, to help your child navigate around it without coming to any harm
Install internet filtering software showing a Child Safety Online Kitemark on your computer.
For younger children it is best to have the computer they use in a space such as the living room where you can keep an eye on what they are doing.
Be aware of professional sources of help. These include:
www.thinkuknow.co.uk: the main UK Government website with advice for parents on how to keep children safe online.
www.ceop.police.uk: the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is the Government body dedicated to eradicating abuse of children. Concerns about inappropriate contacts between a child and an adult, including online, can be reported directly to CEOP.
www.iwf.org.uk: the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) works to remove illegal material from the internet. If you have found any material you believe to be illegal e.g. child sex abuse images, other obscene material or material which incites racial hatred, you can report it to the IWF.
Other sites can offer parents support on broader issues. These include familylives.org.uk
At the Koushinkan Aikido Oxford we include ‘mat chats’ in our children’s martial art classes where we talk to the children about important issues like keeping safe online.