Staying Safe Online – Tips and Advice for Parents and Carers
Computing has changed the lives of everyone since the turn of the century, as it has become more widely available to all. Through teaching a rich and engaging Computing curriculum at Rise Park Primary and Nursery School, we equip children with the skills to engage with the rapidly changing world of digital technology that they find themselves surrounded by.
Because the use of digital technology is now so widespread, we teach children about the key principles of online safety in every Computing lesson, and ensure that every child is aware of the possible risks that come with having a visible online presence.
We know that as the parents and carers of children, navigating the online world with your child can seem quite daunting, as can be educating them about the key principles of staying safe online. As such here are some tips and advice for keeping your children safe online, as well as possible issues and problems to be aware of.
- Conduct: children may be at risk because of their own behaviour, for example, by sharing too much information: Children need to be aware of the impact that their online activity can have on both themselves and other people, and the digital footprint that they create on the internet.It’s easy to feel anonymous online and it’s important that children are aware of who is able to view, and potentially share, the information that they may have posted. When using the internet, it’s important to keep personal information safe and not share it with strangers. Discuss with your child the importance of reporting inappropriate conversations, messages, images and behaviours and how this can be done.
- : age-inappropriate or unreliable content can be available to children. Some online content is not suitable for children and may be hurtful or harmful. This is true for content accessed and viewed via social networks, online games, blogs and websites.
It’s important for children to consider the reliability of online material and be aware that it might not be true or written with a bias. Children may need your help as they begin to assess content in this way. There can be legal consequences for using or downloading copyrighted content, without seeking the author’s permission.
- Contact: children can be contacted by bullies or people who groom or seek to abuse them. It is important for children to realise that new friends made online may not be who they say they are and that once a friend is added to an online account, you may be sharing your personal information with them, and that this could be used in an inappropriate manner.
Regularly reviewing friend lists and removing unwanted contacts is a useful step. Privacy settings online may also allow you to customise the information that each friend is able to access.
If you have concerns that your child is, or has been, the subject of inappropriate sexual contact or approach by another person, it’s vital that you report it to the police via the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (www.ceop.police.uk).
If your child is the victim of cyberbullying, this can also be reported online and offline. Reinforce with your child the importance of telling a trusted adult straight away if someone is bullying them or making them feel uncomfortable, or if one of their friends is being bullied online.
- Commercialism: young people can be unaware of hidden costs and advertising in apps, games and websites. Young people’s privacy and enjoyment online can sometimes be affected by advertising and marketing schemes, which can also mean inadvertently spending money online, for example within applications or popular video games such as Fortnite.
Encourage your children to keep their personal information private, learn how to block both pop ups and spam emails, turn off in-app purchasing on devices where possible, and use a family email address when filling in online forms.
Cyber-Bullying: Advice for Children and Young People
Online abuse can have a severely negative psychological impact on people’s lives; being made to feel bad online is just as damaging as bullying can be in the real world. Those people who are targeted by bullies online are usually those who are most vulnerable or those in need of emotional support, and the effects of cyber-bullying can be felt by its victims for many, many years, in exactly the same way as real world trauma.
It can be hard to see how our actions online can have an effect on others. What we should learn is how to show empathy for others: that’s the ability to understand and share the feelings of other people. This can be more challenging in the digital world, because we cannot see the people we are communicating with, connect with how they feel or interact with them face to face.
The following tips will help you be more careful and thoughtful online, and they can be used in a variety of digital situations, such as gaming, messaging or social media. They can help you with the importance of showing kindness to others when interacting with them online.
Be Kind Online – Hints & Tips
- Understand what ‘empathy’ is – it’s the skill of recognising, understanding and caring about another person’s feelings and taking action to help them if they need it. This can be hard online, as it’s difficult to recognise or imagine how someone is feeling if we can’t actually see them! If we try and understand how someone is feeling through only what they write online, we might not understand properly – so it’s a good idea to check what people mean!
- Feel, see and understand – when we imagine ourselves in the situation of another person, that can help us show them empathy. You don’t have to agree with someone else, you just have to understand how they feel. If you feel that you can’t understand how they feel because they have only written messages, try a video call or video chat so you can see the person face to face!
- Develop self–empathy – when we are online, especially on social media, we usually only share the best of our lives with the digital world. Empathy for others can only begin when we look at ourselves, understand that we are not perfect, and then find the kindness within ourselves to help others.
- Offer help – being kind is about noticing when someone else is finding something hard and wanting to help them. If you are online and you notice someone is struggling with something, or is finding something hard, offer to help them or listen to what is giving them some trouble!
- Try to add value – think before you comment on someone else’s post or image: How can I help this person to lower their sadness? How can I add something positive which will make them feel happy?
- Be responsible – always think twice before you act online. Think: Am I acting out of anger or frustration? Do I know all of the facts about a situation before I make a comment? When we are online it is easy to react quickly to something before we know all of the facts.
- Understand the impact of your actions – when we make a comment about something online, we don’t always ‘see’ how that has made someone feel. This means it can be easier for us to think that what we have done is okay. Remember that unkind comments are hurtful and can make others feel upset.
- Say “No!” to pack mentality – it can be very easy online to post negative comments just because other people are doing the same. Be brave and stand out; do your own thing and don’t join in with other people who are being unkind. If possible, remind other people that they are being unkind and that their behaviour is unacceptable.
Useful Websites / Online Links
There are a number of websites available to view online that offer additional help and guidance for parents, carers and children when it comes to issues surrounding online safety and cyber-bullying.
- UK Safer Internet Centre – https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/
- Safety Net Kids – http://www.safetynetkids.org.uk/
- Childline; Online Safety – https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/bullying-abuse-safety/online-mobile-safety/staying-safe-online/
- Bullying UK – https://www.bullying.co.uk/cyberbullying/how-to-stay-safe-online/
- NSPCC; Online Safety – https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/
- Childnet International; Cyber-bullying – https://www.childnet.com/parents-and-carers/hot-topics/cyberbullying
For targeted information about how to keep your child safe when they are using high-profile social media apps and websites, such as WhatsApp, Snapchat and TikTok, see information in the guides section from https://nationalonlinesafety.com/guides