Online Safety Advice For Parents
Teenagers are often more 'net-savvy' than their parents today. It can be difficult for parents to keep up to date with the latest trends in the online world, and it can sometimes feel like a daunting task.
One of the best things we parents can do is to maintain an active interest in our kids internet activities, by asking what sites they visit regularly, and asking what they do, and who they chat to when they are online. It's also a good idea to keep the computer in a public room, rather than in your child's bedroom, especially if they use a webcam.
It is vital that you know if your child uses chat applications online, and that they understand the importance of keeping their personal information personal. If your child uses IM then it is a good idea to ask them to show you how it works - in this way you can also gauge who they have on their contact list and if there is anyone how they don't know in the real world.
It's important to keep the communication open, and to let kids know that they can talk to you about anything they feel uncomfortable about online. As well as the dangers of online grooming, children also face the risk of being targeted by online bullies. The groomer or bully will often use blackmail tactics to try to stop their victims from telling anyone.
Sharing information online
Young people often share personal information online without thinking through the consequences. It's important to make them aware that anything they post online is there forever.
Encourage them only to upload pictures that you as their parents / carer would be happy to see. It's also not a good idea to post pictures which can identify the school which they attend since this could help someone locate them.
Check if your child has ticked the “no picture forwarding” option on their social networking site settings page – this will stop people sending pictures from their page around the world without their consent.
Encourage them not to give too much away in a blog. Friends can call them for the address of the latest party rather than read about it on their site. They should never post their address or phone number or other personal information on the web.
Ask them to show you how to use a social networking site - getting involved will empower them to share the experience with you.
We have produced a short video (4 mins) containing some excellent guidance and advice for parents worried about their children's habits online. Watch the video
There are lots of other good online safety resources available for parents. Please check out some of the links to the right. In particular, the ThinkUKnow videos, created by CEOP, and available on YouTube, give chilling accounts of teenagers befriending strangers online.
We've also put together some online safety tips that you can pass on to your kids. You can download a printable copy here (pdf).