Many parents worry about online safety, 44% of teenagers take their phones to bed and use them during the night, here we look at the risks…
· Sexting – Sending intimate self-images to friends that can be widely shared via social media. This can lead to being blackmailed leading to further coercion, damage, or worse.
· Trolling – Being bullied. Particularly pernicious because it is public, and via smart phones relentless, throughout the day and night. Messages include “hurt yourself” and other damaging words.
· Pornography – The average age that a child (male and female) watches pornography is 11 years old. 88% of pornography involves some form of violence towards women. Our children are at risk of being exposed to sexual violence and developing copycat expectations at an incredibly early age.
· Gaming – ‘18’ rated games are routinely played by 12 and 13 years olds. The imagery and desensitising nature of this cannot be over emphasised, nor can the risk of addiction and exposure to online groomers.
· Online grooming – Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC recently described the internet as “a playground for paedophiles”
· Overuse and an unhealthy attachment to the online world can impact on sleep, concentration, relationships and social skills.
Fegans recommends that parents do not allow connectivity in a child’s bedroom. Any contact that can be used to blackmail or groom your child is more difficult if the computer is in the lounge or kitchen.
If your child is an avid or even addicted computer user (e.g. gamer) spend time with them while they are online. Try to understand, and enter their world and make a connection. The NSPCC advises: “Talking to your child regularly and being a part of their online world will help you to set and develop boundaries from an early age, meaning you can identify risks before they become issues.”
It is also important to ensure you as a parent are a good digital role model. Are you constantly checking your emails or social media? As a family try to have regular screen free time, enjoy meals together. Make time to talk to each other and – just as important – listen to each other without the interruption of technology.
We’ve compiled a list of online safety resources below.
Online Safety Resources
www.internetmatters.org – advice and information on tackling safety issues
www.thinkuknow.co.uk – advice for children and teens, categorised by age, as well as resources for parents
www.getsafeonline.org – information on protecting your computers and devices against fraud and theft as well as safeguarding children and advice on using social media safely
www.nspcc.org.uk/Share/Aware – NSPCC’s Guide to Social Networking. They also have a free helpline 0808 8005002
www.net-aware.org.uk – NSPCC’s guide to the social networks children use. You can search by app, website or game for reviews by both parents and children and suggested age ratings.
www.pegi.info – for age limits on games which are recognised throughout Europe
www.gamesratingauthority.org – games rating arm of the Video Standards Council with information on video game ratings
www.vodafone.com/content/digital-parenting – aims to empower parents, carers and schools to make the right choices in the digital world. You can download the latest issue of the Digital Parenting magazine from the site too.
www.parentzone.org.uk/peerpressure – a parent’s guide to online peer pressure
www.antibullyingpro.com/how-to-stay-safe-online – advice for children who are being cyberbullied
Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) has an online form to securely report online abuse www.ceop.police.uk/safetycentre
Help for Your Child