Child Online Safety
Keeping Children Safe Online
Children learn through exploration and natural curiosity, and the internet can be a wonderful educational tool. But there are risks in the virtual world as well as the real world and our children need to be protected from everyday dangers – and that includes going online.
In the age of smartphones and tablets adults can find it a real challenge to not only educate children in doing the right thing, but monitor and control their online behaviour.
None of us – of whatever age – are immune from encountering problems online and our children are certainly more vulnerable and naturally more trusting than adults. Some of these potential issues are as follows:
- Inappropriate contact: From people, who may wish to abuse, exploit or bully them.
- Inappropriate conduct: because of their own and others’ online behaviour, such as the personal information they make public, for example on social networking sites. Unfortunately, children can also become cyberbullies, especially when encouraged by others.
- Inappropriate content: being able to access or being sexually explicit, racist, violent, extremist or other harmful material, either through choice or in error.
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Cyber-crime is a fast growing area of crime. More and more criminals are exploiting the speed, convenience and anonymity of the Internet to commit a diverse range of criminal activities.
- Talk, talk, talk. The most important thing for parents and carers is to have lots of conversations with their children and young people about what they are using, how these website/apps work, why they enjoy them, who else is using them etc. In this way they may be able to identify any risky content, inappropriate contact or conduct at an early stage.
- Allow access to the internet from devices within the family space. We do not recommend children and young people having computers or games consoles etc in their rooms.
- Check virus protection. Ensure that mobile devices and laptops have the relevant software to protect from viruses and other malware. There are several free brands that update regularly and provide good protection or there is other commercially available software.
- Subscribe to their Internet Service Provider’s family filtering service. All major providers now have this service free of charge – the account holder simply goes to their account online and ticks the relevant boxes. This will prevent different types of content from being available via the router in a particular location. Note this does not have any effect on devices that are not accessing the internet via the router eg 3G/4G phone signal.
- Use Safe Searching. Most search engines such as Google and YouTube have a safe search facility under the settings menu. Parents and carers of young children particularly may wish to use this to stop them coming across inappropriate material.
- Tighten privacy settings on websites and apps. Parents and carers should try to ensure that any social media accounts or apps are set to the highest privacy settings to prevent unknown or inappropriate people from viewing or contacting children and young people – this can be found under Settings in most websites/apps. Often the default setting for these types of account is public meaning that everyone can see content including pictures and videos.
- Consider using Parental Controls on devices. Parents and carers may wish to use Parental controls on laptops, mobile devices or games consoles. These controls can limit the times the device can be used, whether apps/games can be downloaded and whether the internet can be accessed. iPads, Windows and new Android (4.3 or higher operating system) have built in parental controls: for older Android devices, apps may need to be downloaded to provide parental controls.
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation have produced an information pack for parents called 'Whats the problem?" - A guide for parents of children and young people who have got in trouble online.
Cyber bullying is a method of bullying and includes bullying via text message, instant messenger services, social network sites and email, as well as via images or videos posted on the internet or spread by mobile phone.
If you have been a victim of a cyber-crime please report it online here.
Alternatively if you wish to speak with someone call 101 or contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, www.actionfraud.police.uk
If you have any concerns that a child you know may be a victim of Child Sexual Exploitation report it to Dorset Police on 101 or if you believe a child is in immediate danger, call 999.
You can also report concerns directly to The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP): www.ceop.police.uk
CEOP is a command of the National Crime Agency, and is dedicated to tackling the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and young people. CEOP is here to help young people (up to age 18) who have been forced or tricked into taking part in sexual activity with anyone online or in the real world.