Keeping your child safe online

It’s important to remind children that the things they put online can be seen by lots of people and might stay online forever so they understand the internet and its dangers.

You can help them do this by talking to them about the following key points:

  • People you don’t know are strangers – they may not be who they say they are
  • Keeping personal information private. Let your child know they don’t need to tell people their full name, age, school or address
  • Trust your instinct - If your child gets an ‘uhoh’ feeling about something that is happening online or on social media tell an adult that they trust or report it.
  • Be nice to people, the same as you would in school or out and about

It is important as a parent that you know how to keep your child safe online by using parent controls and age settings through to blocking upsetting or harmful content they may see.

The best way you can protect your child is by talking to them regularly. Talking about what they’re doing, looking at, and how long they’re spending online is incredibly important. 

Make sure they know their boundaries and the risks of being online and help them understand that they can come to you and have a safe, judgement-free space to come to if things ever go wrong.

Livesafe has some great resources to help you support your child being safe online.

Staying safe online is as important as keeping safe in the real world. Here’s a look at the top online risks and what they can mean for your teenager.

Cyberbullying: Cyber bullying is using the internet, email, online games or any digital technology to threaten, tease, upset or humiliate someone else. More details on our bullying page (Link to bullying page on 11-19)

Sexting: This is where your teen may send pictures of a sexual nature with someone else or pass on images of a sexual nature to groups of friends. More details on sexting page (Link to page on 11-19)

Identity theft: It might seem strange to worry about identity theft when your child doesn’t have any credit or assets to steal. Talk to your child about keeping their personal information private and reduce the risk of cyber crime.

Pornography: Exposure to pornography can have a lasting impact and hamper your teen’s ability to form healthy, loving relationships in the future. It creates unrealistic expectations that may impact self-esteem and confuse a teenager’s understanding of romantic relationships. Parental controls and age settings can prevent your child seeing harmful content

Online predators: Online predators often pose as peers in an attempt to connect with children and teenagers. They can show up on social networks, chat rooms, and other online environments. They  try to  build a relationship, trust and emotional connection with a person so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them. It can be done for a number of reasons, including sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation and radicalisation.

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for signs that things may not be as secure as you think. Look for these warning signs that your child may be in trouble.

  • Isolating themselves from family and friends.
  • Changes in their appearance and friendship groups.
  • Stopping doing the things they used to enjoy.
  • Suddenly having new items (gifts) like phones, money, alcohol and jewellery.
  • Sympathetic to concerning people, groups or ideologies.
  • Persistently going missing from school or home without an explanation.
  • Sudden decline in school results.
  • Unexplained injuries.
  • Using language you wouldn’t expect them to know.
  • Talking as if scripted or unwilling to discuss or listen to other points of view.
  • Sudden disrespect to others or a particular group.
  • Increased levels of anger.
  • Carrying weapons.
  • Carrying multiple phones or receiving many calls.
  • Increased secretiveness, particularly around their internet usage.
  • Embracing conspiracy theories.

Having a calm and open conversation is one way for you and your child to explore anything that you are concerned about in an honest and supportive way. There’s advice on the website below on how to help your child and how to start the conversation if you are concerned. 

Discuss your concerns with someone you trust, for example a friend, partner or your child’s school. There’s advice on the website on how to help your child and how to start the conversation if you are concerned. 

You can also talk to a professional at the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000. Talking about it will help you decide the best action to take to ensure your child is safe. If you are concerned that a child has been, or is being sexually abused, you should report it. You can report directly to CEOP or your local police force. If you think your child is in immediate danger call 999

CEOP helps young people who are being sexually abused or are worried that someone they’ve met is trying to abuse them.

If you’ve met someone online, or face to face, and they are r making you feel uncomfortable you should report to CEOP.

This might be someone:

  • Making you have sex when you don’t want to
  • Chatting about sex online
  • Asking you to meet up face to face if youʼve only met them online
  • Asking you to do sexual things on webcam
  • Asking for sexual pictures of you
  • Making you feel worried, anxious or unsafe

If this is happening to you, or you’re worried that it might be, you can report this to CEOP.

Whatever your situation it is likely that you will need support for yourself, as well as for your child. Talk to a friend or relative who you trust, who will listen and support you, or call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.  

To find out more about sharing pictures of children online and their rights visit ThinkUKnow

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