The Christmas festivities have died down and family life is beginning to get back into a routine, except maybe your little bundle of tween or teen may take an even longer age to get ready in the morning.
In fact since the new phone or tablets arrival maybe you have queried at just why you bought the blasted thing in the first place, having only seen the whites of your child’s eyes once since it was unwrapped?
However, what if I was to tell you that this was the least of your problems?
That at some point today your child may have unintentionally clicked on something that takes away their innocence and maybe even puts them in harm’s way.
Lets be honest the internet is an immensely vast place where you can find just about anything you want if you use the right search terms, however underneath its vast cheery grin it can lead your children into a whole heap of problems and even with something as innocent as a misspelt word can take away a child’s innocence!.
From online predators looking to groom children to children themselves and cyber bullying, cyber space can be worse than real life. the internet also have so much to offer children of all ages but it’s up to us to keep them as safe as we can.
For me there are several massive steps you can take to make sure your kids are more protected online:
Parental Controls – Can be found on tablets, devices, and on your own home internet in some cases and you don’t have to do this alone.
Reading research that was released by Ofcom recently I personally find it shocking that a significant number of parents didn’t feel they needed to get involved with their child’s online presence and did not enforce parental controls on the devices their children used.
These parents have never obviously had a Facebook account or even Twitter come to that as some of the stuff that can go viral is sickening and depraved … and I am not talking about the cat GIF’s, everyone needs those online.
Thankfully there is help out there now in the UK with the help of The NSPCC, the UK’s leading children’s charity and O2 as they are providing free help to everyone (not just those on O2) to offer advice and technical support to keep kids safe online. There are free workshops, an over the phone helpline (0808 800 5002 ) and even hands-on free assistance in stores with O2’s Gurus!
Be Vigilant – Children tend to be creatures of routines in behaviours, if it sounds fishy or to good to be true then it is, ask questions and keep the communication open between you and your children. Talking with children about the internet and the social media they are using can help massively to keep them on the right path.
Teach Your Child It Never Goes Away – This is a very personal one for me, when my teenage daughter was heavily involved with apps and the internet my biggest statement to her was “it never ever goes away”
Again according to that shocking report, when questioned “Fifty-eight per cent of 12-15s who go online agree with the statement: ’I can easily delete information that I have posted about myself online if I don’t want people to see it. Around one in five (18%) disagree and one in four (24%) are neutral or unsure” – There are so many ways that the internet keep snippets of what you have posted, obviously not to mention peers screen grabbing.
NEVER EVER PUT ONLINE ANYTHING YOU WOULD BE EMBARRASSED TO SHOW YOUR PARENTS – is my rule of thumb so don’t do it, don’t type it, don’t show it.
Having been into school over inbox messages that were sent to me over social media from silly boys in her school I know from experience that children can and are sometimes very stupid.
In App Restrictions – Many of the well used social media sites have inbuilt safety settings to limit the use of non relevant content in relation to age and these can be easy to set up or if you struggle, do take look online with the O2 Gurus who will be able to help.
Internet/Device Ground Rules – As with anything else to do with safety, we set our children boundaries and rules to enforce a greater understanding of being responsible, why shouldn’t we be doing this to the internet and technology?
Set clear and concise rules of use this will help with accountability and responsibility but in order to set your child rules firstly you have to do what you can to keep them safe online with parental controls!
Childline have seen a 60% year on year increase of counselling session with children left worried after seeing porn online and NSPCC research found that children were as likely to find pornography accidentally, as to deliberately search for it.
Lets do what we can to keep our kids safe online.
Disclaimer: This is a collaborative feature with the NSPCC