Internet safety tips and advice from NSPCC for further information go to www.nspcc.org.uk
Talk to your child
You might find it helpful to start with a family discussion to set boundaries and agree what's appropriate. Or you might need a more specific conversation about an app or website your child wants to use or something you're worried about.
If you're not sure where to start then here's the advice you need – great ways to begin conversations to keep your child safe online. And you can always call our O2 and NSPCC online safety helpline for free expert advice.
Explore new sites and apps together
Talk about what might be OK for children of different ages. Ask your child what sites or apps they like. Write a list, and look at them together.
Be positive about what you see, but also be open about concerns you have: "I think this site's really good" or "I'm a little worried about things I've seen here".
Talk to your child about what you think is appropriate – but also involve them in the conversation. Ask what they think is OK for children of different ages – they'll feel involved in the decision-making.
Be aware that your child might talk about friends who use apps or visit sites that you've decided aren't suitable. Be ready to discuss your reasons, but recognise that they may not agree with you. Listen carefully for the reasons why.
Go through a final list of sites you both agree are OK, and work out when you'll next discuss it.
Ask about things they might see online which make them feel uncomfortable
- Be specific. What exactly made them feel uncomfortable and why? Is it people or animals being hurt? Nasty comments about others?
- Link these to things in the real world, and explain that you're always here to protect and help them online and off.
- Reassure your child that they can always talk to you about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Show them how to report or block on the sites and apps they use. Use Net Aware to find out how.
- Tell them you'll help them to report anything upsetting they've seen, or to deal with online bullying.
Talk about how they can stay safe on social networks
- where reporting functions are
- how to block someone
- how to keep information private.
Be Share Aware: talk about what's OK, and not OK, to share online
Explain simple ways to protect privacy. For example, avoiding usernames like birthdates or locations that give away too much information.
Discuss images and photos, and what might be appropriate. Help your child understand how photographs can give people a sense of your personality, and that sharing the wrong kind of image can give the wrong impression.
Explain that it isn't easy to identify someone online. People aren't always who they say they are, so don't share personal information. If it's someone who genuinely knows your child, they shouldn't need to ask for personal information online.
Tell your child that if they're in any doubt they should talk to you first.
what if you are worried about your child?
taking and sharing inappropriate pictures ....
talk to your child to ask what they are sharing and if they know who has ssen the pictures. Ask them if they would be happy for someone - like a grandparent - to see them? or if someone they admire or a favourite celebrity would share an image like that?
Explain to them they should always think carefully about what they share as once its been sent they cant control what happens to it. Discuss what sort of pictures are appropriate to share and not to share. Make sure they understand why.
Recognise sometimes children share images for a dare or as part of a joke. Remind them that once something is shared online they cant manage who sees it or what happens next - even if it was part of a joke.
Agree a safe way forward such as checking what they share for a while , or ask an older sibling to check for a while.
sharing personal information....
Talk to your child about the things that they can safely share, like their interests and hobbies. And explain what counts as personal information, for example:
- their full name
- mobile number
- email address
- passwords.Remind them they wouldn't share this information with people they didn't know in the real world.
They might be happy to share thoughts and feelings online with friends, but explain that they should be wary of doing this with strangers. Not everyone is who they say they are online, and sometimes things like your hopes and fears can be used against you by people you don't know.
If your child is worried they've shared too much, make sure you're able to help them if needed.
NSPCC Net Aware guide to the social networks your kids use has links to information that will help you and your child, including how to:
- remove content on different apps and sites
- block people
- report abuse
looking at porn online...
Ask open questions about what they have been looking at. But be prepared for the fact that they may not want to talk about it and might feel embarrassed.
If you're really worried about what they've been viewing, tell them why and make it clear that you don't want them to view it again.
You can also block the content by using parental controls and explain why you've done this. Suggest other age-appropriate sites where they can find out about sex and relationships. ChildLine has information that's suitable for children aged 9+, and the BBC has some clear, straightforward advice for young people.
If you're less worried and think they may be 'experimenting', talk to them about the differences between online porn and real sex, love and relationships.
being bullied online.....
Recognise that online bullying might be just one part of bullying that's happening in their day-to-day lives, and there might be a lot of underlying issues.
- Reassure them that you can help to remove the content that's upsetting them and block the person who made the comments.
- Look at the negative comments with them and contact the provider to get them removed.
- Save the evidence by taking screen shots.
- Contact their school to let them know about the incident, if you think it's appropriate.
bullying others online...
If your child has been bullying others online, find out whether other children were involved and what part your child played.
They may not have realised that what happened was bullying. Tell them explicitly that this behaviour isn't acceptable and the fact it's online doesn't mean it's not upsetting.
Help them understand how what they've done feels. You could ask them how they think the other child felt, or how they feel when someone says unkind things to them.
Explain that leaving someone out of an online discussion or group can be just as bad as attacking them directly. Encourage them to apologise to the person involved and help them to remove the content.
spending too much time online?
Agree what times your child can go online. For example, not going online just before bed time or in the morning before school.
Explain that you think it's important they do a variety of activities. You recognise that they enjoy being online, but you think it's important they do other things as well.
Discuss your family agreement and remind them why it's important. Use technical tools to help you reinforce online times. Many sites have timers that you can set, or you can set it up on the computer, mobile or tablet.
Make sure that you stick to what you've agreed and that you manage your own time online.
Whether you want to set up parental controls, adjust privacy settings or get advice on social networks, experts from the O2 & NSPCC are here to help. What parents need to know to help keep your child safe wherever and whenever they go online.
They have more detailed advice about keeping children safe online including parental controls on their website www.nsppc.org.uk
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