Safer Internet Day is marked globally in February each year to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.
This year it falls on Tuesday 6th February with the slogan “Create, Connect and Share Respect: A better internet starts with you” (#SID2018).
Nearly every day now an article can be found in the news regarding problems caused for children and parents by the internet or social media. Writing in the Times last December, James McConnachie said: “The new parental front line is digital.” Headlines such as Skin betting: ‘Children as young as 11 introduced to gambling’ and Facebook: Now for young children too appear frequently on BBC News.
While the internet can be used for a lot of good, there are many issues around online safety and the amount of problems and dangers caused by the internet when used by children can be overwhelming. However, with heightened awareness of the issues, there are an increasing number of helpful guides and websites providing useful and practical ways to keep children safe online.
Thirtyone:eight have a model e-safety flowchart and policy which can be found under downloads in our online safeguarding manual. One website with plenty of information and advice is: www.internetmatters.org.
Lee Carmichael, one of our Helpline Practitioners said: “For youth workers it’s mostly down to the best practice in setting up social media groups and how to communicate with young people safely. We have our model online safety policy which covers both service users and workers.
“Beyond that I think there’s a lack of parental input from churches and youth workers. In a 2015 Ofcom survey they found that ‘One in eight parents of 12-15s feel they don’t know enough to help their child manage online risks.’
“Youth workers can be family workers and help engage parents, who spend more time than anyone else with their kids (hopefully!), to be able to consider what online risks are present in their home and how to help their kids stay safe and get the best out of their online experience.
“From knowing how to turn on strict filtering on an iPhone, to using a paid app subscription for a number of apps which help monitor children’s online activity and positively challenge them when facing risks.
“In my view it’s about growing up with an agreed culture of openness with kids and not waiting till something goes wrong before putting in good safety measures.
“Children can really benefit from being online and by working together with them, rather than just policing them, they can be safe.”
Below are eight hints and tips for keeping your children safe when using social media from our Help guide on online safety:
- Be involved in your child setting up and using social media accounts. This includes chat rooms available through children’s toys such as Moshi Monsters etc.
- Ensure privacy settings are correct. These can include photo permissions, location tags, who can see their comments. Every device and app has options for privacy.
- Tell them not to add people they do not know. Online identities can be created by anyone.
- Tell them not to share any personal data whether voluntarily or at someone’s request. This includes where they live, school, age etc.
- Explain that anything they put online is permanent. They won’t be able to take something back if they post it by mistake, even if they delete the post off their own profile.
- Set boundaries for limited use. Use parental controls to set appropriate boundaries on time and access.
- Agree access to their device or computer to be able to see their activity.
- Ensure they know how to report any unwanted activity.