Online safety – advice for parents & carers

Few parents or carers understand their children’s new cyber culture. They do not understand what they are doing (and how they are doing it) on the internet and on their mobile devices.

As parents we must begin to accept that this new world is ‘normal’ for our children and for once they probably do know more about it than we do!

We have put together a list that shows you where you can go for information, advice, help and support. Don’t forget that there may be an expert already in your household – your daughter or son!

Thinkuknow
Thinkuknow is the education programme from CEOP, a UK organisation which protects children both online and offline.  There are six targeted Thinkuknow websites for advice about staying safe online:

  1. age 5-7 at www.thinkuknow.co.uk/5_7
  2. age 8-10 at hwww.thinkuknow.co.uk/8_10
  3. age 11-13 at www.thinkuknow.co.uk/11_13
  4. age 14+ at www.thinkuknow.co.uk/14_plus
  5. parent & carers at www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents
  6. children’s workforce / professionals at www.thinkuknow.co.uk/professionals

Thinkuknow also enables people to immediately report anything online which they find concerning, such as harmful or inappropriate content, or possible grooming behaviour.

Childnet
Childnet has a range of resources to support parents and teachers. Their mission is to work in partnership with others around the world to help make the internet a great and safe place for children. They work directly with children and young people from the ages of 3 to 18, as well as parents, carers, teachers and professionals, finding out about their real experiences online, and the positive things they are doing as well as sharing safety advice.

O2 & NSPCC
Today children and young people tend to know more about mobiles, the internet and social media than adults. O2 and the NSPCC have written a guide to help adults understand what young people really do on their mobiles and the internet; and to help parents talk to their children openly about the risks, so they know how to protect themselves.

SafeSurfing Project 
People with a learning disability are especially at risk of being hurt online – the Mencap SafeSurfing Project teaches people with a learning disability to use the internet in a safe way.

Parental control advice
Software to keep kids safe online is now available free from all the major UK broadband providers.

Baited pages & naked selfies

Baited pages are private profiles set up across social media that can only be accessed by invitation. These pages are targeting children and young people with a requirement for the person to submit naked pictures of themselves or peers. These images are then shared.

For young children, it’s about making sure they know they can turn to parents and carers with anything that worries them online; and that they know how to keep themselves safe by understanding appropriate and inappropriate behaviours.

With older children, parents and carers play a key role in helping them to critically evaluate the things they come across – both online and offline – to help them have healthy relationships and attitudes.

Childnet have a resource for parents and carers to help them have age-appropriate conversations about pornography with their children.

CEOP has developed ‘Nude Selfies: what parents and carers need to know‘ a series of four short animated films for parents and carers offering advice on how to help keep their children safe from the risks associated with sharing nude and nearly nude images.

Further resources

To report pages of this sort visit the UK Safer Internet Centre at www.ceop.police.uk/Safety-Centre and remember:

  • if you suspect a child is being groomed online, always report your concerns to the specialist police agency CEOP at www.ceop.police.uk/Safety-Centre
  • sexual images of a child are illegal and the Internet Watch Foundation will take reports from the public to remove content through their website at www.iwf.org.uk

Further advice and resources

There is a huge range of online safety advice available on the internet for children, young people and their families.

ChildLine has lots of online and mobile safety tips for  children and young.

ClickCEOP is a Facebook application that helps to promote safer internet use when using Facebook.

Get safe online is the UK’s leading source of unbiased, factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety.

The website provides practical advice on how to protect yourself, your computers and mobiles device and your business against fraud, identity theft, viruses and many other problems encountered online. It contains guidance on many other related subjects too – including performing backups and how to avoid theft or loss of your computer, smartphone or tablet.

Every conceivable topic is included on the site – including safe online shopping, gaming and dating … so now you really can stay safe with everything you do online.

The site also keeps you up to date with news, tips and stories from around the world.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) work internationally to make the internet safer by removing images of child sexual abuse.

IWF are an independent not for profit organisation and work with the global internet industry and the European Commission. Its aim is to minimise the availability of potentially illegal internet content, specifically:

  • child sexual abuse images hosted anywhere in the world
  • criminally obscene content hosted in the UK
  • incitement to racial hatred content hosted in the UK.

You can report online sexual abuse and content, as well as inappropriate chat or behaviour towards a child online; or if you see an image of child abuse on the web report it on their website at www.iwf.org.uk/

Please note: it is against the law to actively seek out images of child abuse and doing so in order to report it would not be a defence in court.

Net Aware supported by the NSPCC, keeps you up-to-date, with simple advice on what is new in social networking. Their website reviews privacy settings, suitable ages and appropriate content for over 60 sites.

You can also read up-to-date reviews from parents and children for each app, game and social network.

NSPCC and O2 have joined forces to keep children safe online. The work includes: an online safety helpline for parents to call for technical advice; online safety workshops in schools and workplaces; and training staff in O2 stores to help adults with their online safety concerns.

ParentPort is run by the UK’s media regulators to set and enforce standards across the media to protect children from inappropriate material.

Stop it Now! UK and Ireland is a child sexual abuse prevention campaign and Helpline. It is run by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, the only UK-wide child protection charity dedicated solely to reducing the risk of children being sexually abused.

They support adults to play their part in prevention through providing sound information, educating members of the public, training those who work with children and families and running our Freephone confidential Helpline.

The Safer Internet Centre has been commissioned by the European Commission and has set up a national helpline for professionals working with children and young people, specifically tackling the area of online safety. The main areas they offer support include social networking sites, bullying, sexting, online gaming and child protection. The helpline will aim to resolve issues professionals face about themselves, such as protecting professional identity, and also about young people in relation to online safety.

The helpline is primarily a signposting, advice, and mediation service, urgent safeguarding matters should be dealt with as per normal child protection procedures. Due to the nature of the service, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed, although anonymity will be protected where possible.

Safer Internet Day is held annually in February.

Foster carers, adoptive parents  and social workers should visit the website at www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-and-resources/fostering-adoption for more targeted information.

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