Using the Internet, mobile phones and games consoles are now an everyday part of young people's lives. However, there are risks for children and as parents/carers you need to know how to protect your child effectively.
We have created this page to give you some tips on how you can keep your child safe, as well as provide you with some informative websites where you can find out more information.
Some top tips for parents/carers:
- Communicate with your child about their online habits.
- If your child has Facebook, insist that they add you as a friend.
- Have up to date anti-virus protection.
- Set up parental controls via your Internet Service Provider (ISP) - your ISP will be able to provide more information about how this is done.
- Familiarise yourself with this website.
- Always seek advice if you are unsure.
Just like adults, teens use Facebook to connect with friends; through chat, personal messages and sharing photos, videos, links and other kinds of information. They use Facebook to announce achievements, wish each other a happy birthday and plan social events, like going to the cinema or to a friend's house.
A source of useful information is here, a document created by YHGfL that you can print out and refer to.
Help your child stay safe on Facebook by visiting the Family Safety Centre.
A news article was published recently that we would like to bring to your attention, around a change in the Snapchat App. We are aware that many of our students use Snapchat. The new feature of the App is a tracker whereby users can view the exact location of their friends, with their street and house being displayed on a map. This essentially means that anyone could view the exact location of your child and understandably, parents/carers may be alarmed about this. We have received advice that if a user changes their settings to "ghost mode" then no one can see where they are. This new feature is only found in the most recent updates version of the App - if you ask your child to go to "selfie mode" on the camera and zoom out, it will give you the option of changing who can view their location. We urge you to ensure that your child has changed their settings.
- Know which websites your child visits and help them find the 'report abuse' or 'block sender' options so that they can feel in control.
- Tell your child not to reply to unpleasant messages.
- Urge them to keep evidence - not to delete bullying texts, emails or posts on social networking sites, as they can often be traced.
- Encourage them to take action and talk to you if they are being cyberbullied.
- Be involved in your child’s online life. For many of today’s young people there is no line between the online and offline worlds. Young people use the Internet to socialise and grow and, just as you guide and support them offline, you should be there for them online too. Talk to them about what they are doing, if they know you understand then they are more likely to approach you if they need support.
- Keep up-to-date with your child’s development online. Be inquisitive and interested in the new gadgets and sites that your child is using. It is important that, as your child learns more, you do too.
- 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 continue to discuss boundaries so that they evolve, as your child’s use of technology does.
- Know what connects to the Internet and how. Nowadays even TVs connects to the Internet. Your child will use all sorts of devices and gadgets; make sure you are aware of which ones can connect to the Internet, such as their phone or games console. Also, find out how they are accessing the Internet; is it via your connection or a neighbour’s Wifi? This will affect whether your safety settings are being applied.
- Consider the use of parental controls on devices that link to the Internet, such as TVs, 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 are not as difficult to install as you might think. Service providers are working hard to make them simple, effective and user friendly.
- Emphasise that not everyone is who they say they are. Make sure your child knows never to meet up with someone they only know online. People might not always be who they say they are. Make sure your child understands that they should never meet up with anyone they only know online, without taking a trusted adult with them.
- Know what to do if something goes wrong. Just as in the offline world, you want to help your child when they need it. Therefore, it is important to know when and how to report a problem, and the tools available to help keep your child safe.