Advice on keeping children safe online

With the latest advances in computers, gaming devices and mobile technology it is now possible to access the internet from almost anywhere. While the Internet is generally a force for good, it also contains some material which is unsuitable for children and young people. Many parents and guardians are concerned about internet safety for their children and the details below can provide some advice and guidance.

Hints tips and advice

The following are steps that parents can take to guide their child(ren) to make safe use of the Internet:

  • If you can, place your computer in an open area where it is possible to keep an eye on how your child is using it.
  • Check that 'parental controls' are enabled on computers/gaming consoles and that internet protection software, where installed, is up to date.
  • Discuss online safety with your child. Ensure they understand the risks involved with talking to strangers online and that people may not be what they say they are over the Internet. Make sure they know not to give out any personal details like a home address, their school or home/mobile telephone number and that they should never agree to meet with someone they have met online unless you, or a trusted adult, are with them.
  • If they have an account on a social networking site (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bebo, Pintrest etc.), remind them to set their page settings to private. This can usually be done via the account privacy settings.
  • Talk to your child about what to do if they are contacted by a stranger for sexually explicit images or video. This includes if they are asked to send inappropriate pictures or videos of themselves. You should report such instances to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (www.ceop.police.uk). 
  • Talk about viewing inappropriate material online such as sexually explicit images, racist and self-harm websites.
  • Make sure they know that illegal downloading (such as music files/file sharing) can result in legal challenges.
  • If your child uses a mobile phone or smartphone, they need to know to turn off Bluetooth via their phone's settings.

Cyber-bullying

Cyber-bullying is a person (or group of people) target their victim online. This can be by sending upsetting, abusive, threatening or hurtful messages via online media such as e-mails, instant messenger services, chat-rooms or via social media. This can also extend to other communications media such as:

  • SMS texts
  • creating video clips via mobile phones and sending or posting them on public video libraries such as You Tube, Vimeo etc.
  • Uploading personal photo’s without the victims permission.
  • Sending viruses. Games consoles also give players another way to chat online. This can also be exploited by cyber-bullies. 

Sometimes, children might be pressured to join in on bullying someone else. Remind them that bullying online is just as hurtful as bullying in the real world. 

Further safety advice

The following websites provide help and guidance for parents and guardians to protect children from inappropriate online material.

Get safe online

This website provides a wide range of information for anyone looking to stay safe online, whether to improve security or to protect children while browsing the Internet.

Please see: Get Safe Online (www.getsafeonline.org)

ParentPort

UK media regulators have joined forces to launch ParentPort, a new website aimed at giving parents, carers and guardians straightforward information on what they can do if they’ve seen or heard something they felt was inappropriate for their children across the media, communications and retail industries. 

Please see: ParentPort (www.parentport.org.uk).

UK safer internet centre

This website guide has been created to introduce some of the most popular safety devices and tools available and to empower parents with the knowledge they need to support their children to use these technologies safely and responsibly. The guide covers tools for various devices that connect to the Internet such as smartphones, gaming devices and other internet-enabled devices.

Please see: UK Safer Internet Centre (www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-and-resources/a-parents-guide).

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