I am teaming up with the NSPCC to
help reinforce the important message of keeping children safe online. Many of us might have had the stranger
danger talk with our children, but what about the dangers of using their tablets
or laptops in an online world. Digital
stranger danger is a real concern these days, especially with such young
children now having access to mobile phones and other devices.
Access to the Internet means they
are more likely to see things that might not be age appropriate or interact with
people they don’t really know through social networking sites. Children can very vulnerable if they haven’t
been warned of the dangers. Some people
are adept at gaining a child’s trust and might not be who they claim to
be. It’s important you don’t leave it
to chance, get the discussion started about using the Internet, identifying
risks and safe usage.
The NSPCC are collaborating with O2 to be more Share Aware to think about the content, information and images your children share online. Apparently one in five 8-11 year olds have a social network profile, so far I have managed to dissuade my eldest from getting one even although many of his friends have signed up on various networks. Part of the campaign also focuses on understanding how innocent searches can lead to not so innocent results. Certain words can bring up quite different images/content than children were expecting.
But even if you have had the
safety talk it doesn’t always sink in, so possibly one of the best ways to keep
them safe is to lock down the Internet by adding parental controls that stops
them accessing some sites completely.
Personally I am not keen on children having access to YouTube
unsupervised. Some of the content on
there is quite unsavoury, yet it surprises me how many children have complete
freedom to explore it. It’s much safer to be by their side.
Searching for a
particular cartoon doesn’t always work either, many have been altered and
include bad language and other improper content – yes I know this first hand as
I searched for a Mario video for eldest when he was quite young (say 4) and it
seemed fine until Mario weed on Peaches!
Luckily I could quickly turn it off but without an adult present who
knows where videos lead too…
You can also add limits to when
they can access the Internet. This is good if they happened to sneak their
iPad up to their bedroom and tried to go online whilst they are meant to be
sleeping. I prefer screen time to be
done downstairs where I can keep a watchful eye on proceedings. Eldest goes online to talk to friends
through his PS4 but I have made it quite clear he is not to add anyone without
asking us first – so far he has followed the rules.
It is important to have
guidelines in place so they know what is acceptable and what is not. Both of mine know they must not give out the
finer details of their lives (their names, addresses and school they
attend). I don’t want them adding
people they don’t know to social media – if I am honest I am shocked some
adults I know actually do this.
Research by Ofcom found that a significant number of parents believed parental controls were not needed.
You also want children to feel comfortable to come to
you if they did see something – you might have strict parental controls in
place but when they visit friends it might be a different set up. If your unsure how to set up parental controls do get help from the NSPCC and O2. They have free advice and technical support available to keep children safe online. You can call the free dedicated helpline service – 0808 800 5002 – for any internet safety questions. Additionally parents can get hands-on free assistance in-store with O2 Gurus. You do not need to be an O2 customer to make use of this support.
Please be aware the NSPCC is a charity and can only continue to provide such invaluable support through your donations.