E-Safety | Advice For Parents
Parents and guardians buying web-enabled devices such as smart phones, laptops and games consoles for teenagers this Christmas are being urged to enable security settings to help protect them online.
As part of the ongoing ‘Who are you really talking to’ campaign, West Yorkshire Police has produced a number of easy to read guides for different social media applications and gaming consoles explaining how to set privacy levels and restrict access to information.
Detective Chief Inspector Sue Jenkinson said: “We are sure that under Christmas trees across West Yorkshire this year there will be gift wrapped smart phones, games consoles and laptops which teenage boys and girls are raring to get their hands on. While these can be a great way of keeping in touch with friends and family, it is also possible for strangers who could be pretending to be someone else to communicate with children via these devices.
“If you are giving a web-enabled device as a present this Christmas, we would suggest checking our online guides to restrict who is able to see pictures and personal information on social media applications and gaming consoles. Most of us will remember the ‘Don’t Talk to Strangers’ campaigns, but this is just as relevant online and parents and guardians have a role to play in activating privacy settings and making sure teenagers are aware of what they can do to protect themselves online.”
The guides and more information about the ‘Child Sexual Exploitation – Know the Signs’ campaign are available on the West Yorkshire Police website at: www.westyorkshire.police.uk/cse/onlineguides
Here is some advice we have put together on how to use smartphones, gaming devices, iPads and iPods safely – http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-and-resources/a-parents-guide and also online gaming advice – http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/downloads/resources/publications/Online-gaming.pdf. The advice is aimed at parents but has practical information relevant to anyone using these devices.
We have also found these great printable cards or contracts from Platform for Good which help you agree some house rules with your children over how each different gadget should be used.
Top 10 safety tips for how to keep your child safe online – Click HERE
As Parents/Carers we need to be vigilant about what our young people are doing and who they are talking to when they use the Internet. Our key message to you is to be involved and aware of the risks.
So what are the dangers?
Potential CONTACT – from someone online who may wish to harm them. Children must re-learn the “stranger=danger” rule in a new context and never give out personal details or meet alone with anyone they’ve contacted via the Internet.
Inappropriate CONTENT – keep an eye on the material your children are looking at and agree the ground rules about where your children go and how they behave.
Excessive COMMERCIALISM – and advertising which invades your child’s privacy. Encourage your children not to fill out forms which ask for lots of personal details.
What is filtering software?
Filtering software can help to block a lot of inappropriate material but they are not 100% effective and are no substitute for good parental involvement. Internet use at school is filtered, supervised and safe. But many children use the Net at friend’s homes, Internet cafes, libraries where there may be no filters and little supervision. It’s therefore important to help educate your children about how to behave online and discuss problems which they may have. It helps to keep the computer in a family room – not tucked away in a bedroom.
What about mobile phones?
The issues about being careful online apply equally to mobile telephones. The current generation of mobiles and handheld devices have more and more Internet facilities on them. It is very important to encourage your children not to give out their mobile numbers to strangers or people they cannot trust completely. Talk about the sort of text messages your children are receiving and sending.
Stick to the positive
Encourage your children to stick to the fun and positive sites on the Net that reinforce their interests. Just as you look out for good TV programmes for children take the time to find the best and most useful websites for you and your family.
Communicating your issues
If you start by telling your child never to do something most children will ask “why not?” and then try to find out! Discussing the potential dangers with your children therefore needs care and sensitivity and involves helping them to see for themselves how they might get into difficulty. Most children will respond more positively if you encourage them to be SMART or “Cool” on the Internet rather than giving them a list of “Dos and don’ts”! For further information go to www.childnet-int.org/safety/parents.aspx