Where do we start?
Extracts from Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) website: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/
The internet has changed all of our lives, particularly our children’s. For parents and carers this opens up a whole new world of things to be aware of. For many of us, this can all be a bit too much. You might be struggling to keep up with the things your child is doing online, you might wonder whether what they are doing is safe, and you might also be thinking how can I be as good a parent online as I am offline? The Thinkuknow website aims to make online parenting simple with practical tips and simple guidance.
- Talk to your child about what they’re up to online. Be a part of their online life; involve the whole family and show an interest. Find out what sites they visit and what they love about them, if they know you understand they are more likely to come to you if they have any problems.
- Watch Thinkuknow films and cartoons with your child. The Thinkuknow site has films, games and advice for children from 5 all the way to 16.
- Encourage your child to go online and explore! There is a wealth of age-appropriate sites online for your children. Encourage them to use sites which are fun, educational and that will help them to develop online skills.
- Keep up-to-date with your child’s development online. Children grow up fast and they will be growing in confidence and learning new skills daily. It’s important that as your child learns more, so do you.
- Set boundaries in the online world just as you would in the real world. Think about what they might see, what they share, who they talk to and how long they spend online. It is important to discuss boundaries at a young age to develop the tools and skills children need to enjoy their time online. Be aware of what is age appropriate and what is not. Many children become interested in games or apps which are designed for older teens especially if they have older siblings. Make sure you are aware of age recommendations.
- Keep all equipment that connects to the internet in a family space. For children of this age, it is important to keep internet use in family areas so you can see the sites your child is using and be there for them if they stumble across something they don’t want to see.
- Know what connects to the internet and how. Nowadays even the TV connects to the internet. Make sure you’re aware of which devices that your child uses connect to the internet, such as their phone or games console. Also, find out how they are accessing the internet – is it your connection, or a neighbour’s wifi? This will affect whether the safety settings you set are being applied.
- Use parental controls on devices that link to the internet, such as the TV, laptops, computers, games consoles and mobile phones. Parental controls are not just about locking and blocking, they are a tool to help you set appropriate boundaries as your child grows and develops. They are not the answer to your child’s online safety, but they are a good start and they are not as difficult to install as you might think. Service providers are working hard to make them simple, effective and user friendly. Find your service provider and learn how to set your controls. If you have a child who is at, or is due to start, secondary school, read our secondary school advice to find out what you can do to support them.
If you are worried that a child is being groomed online or exploited you should report your concerns to CEOP:
For a wealth of further information, please read the latest online Safety Guide for Parents and Carers produced by West Sussex County Council below or visit the NSPCC website https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/
We have also selected a range of guides which you may find useful, many of which have been produced by National Online Safety.