Why do you need to know?
The Internet is becoming an increasingly dangerous place. The rise in the number of activities that are available to our young people only increases the number of risks that are posed. We are constantly hearing tales in the media of the dangers of the Internet but sometimes we lack precise knowledge of how we can help minimise the risk to ourselves and our/your people. The risks are that involving access to internet platforms, chatrooms and apps.
Our aim is to provide you with more information about the dangers that our young people face on the Internet, and how to help you safeguard them by making informed decisions. This information should help you to:
- Know what the dangers are;
- Understand where you can look for advice and support;
- Be able to make informed decisions to safeguard your family.
Social networks have become hugely popular, and they remain a good way to keep in contact with friends, family and associates. Some of the best known social networks are:
- Kik Messenger, Texting App
- ooVoo, Texting App
- WhatsApp, Texting App
- Instagram, Micro-blogging Apps/Site
- Tumblr, Micro-blogging Apps/Site
- Twitter, Micro-blogging Apps/Site
- Vine, Micro-blogging Apps/Site
- YouNow, Live streaming video App
- BurnNote, Live streaming video App
- Snapchat, Live streaming video App
- Whisper, Live streaming video App
- YikYak, Live streaming video App
- MeetMe, Chatting, Meeting, Dating App/Site
- Omegle, Chatting, Meeting, Dating App/Site
- Skout, Chatting, Meeting, Dating App/Site
- Tinder, Chatting, Meeting, Dating App/Site
Young people are increasingly using these websites from a very young age but in order to keep safe there is a need to protect them from:
- Exposure to strangers;
- Use of fake profiles;
- Unsolicited chat/messages;
- Exposure to unsavoury information and images.
Allowing a child to have a social networking account can potentially give strangers uncontrolled access to your child. This is something that we would never do in real-life but there are parents/carers who allow this to happen on social networking sites because they just don't know who their child is in contact with.
Some children compete to add the most friends on these sites. For some these friends are people they have never met before, they may even be talking to someone who has set up a fake profile under another child’s name.
There is also the risk of being exposed to malicious or adult material through private or public messages. Images that are not suitable for children could also be easily viewed in this way.
Pictures that children post of themselves can also reveal a large amount of information. For instance a picture of a child with friends in school uniform, identifies the school that the uniform originated from, and gives information on where a student is likely to be at certain times of the day. In the wrong hands this is dangerous information.
What can you do?
If you want to allow your child to have a social network account and enjoy the many benefits this brings, ensure they add you as a friend and that you are able to access all areas of their account. This can be a good exercise to complete with your child, and helps to ensure that they are not receiving messages from unknown sources. This is also a good opportunity to check the information and pictures they are posting (e.g. address/pictures in school uniform). If they are posting information they do not want you to see they probably should not be posting it!
Most social networking sites have the option to set privacy settings which restrict information available to people who are not added as friends. You can find information about these settings on the sites themselves and a quick Google search will give you instructions on how to adjust privacy settings to the appropriate levels.
Checking who your child is friends with can show you who they are likely to be communicating with. Talking to your child and asking about the people on their friends list is a good way to monitor who is likely to be in contact with your child and encourages them to make informed decisions.
'Sexting' is an increasingly common activity among children and young people, where they share inappropriate or explicit images online or through mobile phones. It can also refer to written messages.
As a parent, it is important to understand the risks so that you can talk to your child about how to stay safe and what to do if they ever feel scared or uncomfortable.
What is sexting?
'Sexting' is the exchange of self-generated sexually explicit images, through mobile picture messages or webcams over the internet. Young people may also call it cybersex or sending a nudie, picture or selfie. 'Sexting' is often seen as flirting by children and young people who feel that it's a part of normal life.
'Sexting' is more common than you may think, and has been found to be commonplace amongst children and young people. Most young people do not see 'sexting' as a problem and are reluctant to talk to adults about it because they are afraid of being judged or having their phones taken away. Sending pictures and inappropriate content has become normal teenage behaviour.
What are the dangers of sexting?
- It's not harmless
- It's illegal
- No control of images and how they are shared
- Vulnerable to blackmail, bullying and harm
What can you do?
It is important that you are aware what your child is doing with their mobile devices and computers. Give your child the freedom to want to show you how they are communicating with other people if they have been sent anything they feel is not appropriate. Below is a link that gives you advice as to what to look out for and how to approach the issue with your child:
Gaming is hugely popular with many students and young people, using games consoles and PCs linked-up to other players through the Internet. For a parent/carer this is particularly difficult to monitor, players use a headset and microphone to talk to the others, and therefore you are unable to monitor what is being said.
Networks like the PlayStation, Steam and Xbox networks can randomly link up players from around the globe, so your child could be talking to someone in the US, Australia or Chile! This can also be a stranger who lives just down the road.
This type of communication is difficult to control and monitor your child could be subjected to menacing threats, swearing and other inappropriate dialogue and will need to know how to respond if this happens.
A new active game which is out now is Pokemon Go. Although a good idea to make gaming active and encourage children to get out and cycle and walk there are dangers with this kind of activity that we need to make you aware of. Please click on this link to read more:
What can you do?
A good way to monitor what is being said and who your child is in contact with is to have them play the game in either a communal room, or with the door open. This means you are able to hear what they are saying in response to the chat.
Some networks also have parental controls where you are able to create an account, and register your child as a ‘sub-account’ which gives you control over the content they can access. The PlayStation network allows you to restrict the content of games, DVDs, websites and chat so that it is age appropriate and also control the amount that they can spend on the network buying downloadable content. More information can be found on the http://eu.playstation.com (search for parental control) or http://www.gamenanny.org for Steam.
Microsoft’s Live network has comprehensive procedures to help keep people safe online. It allows parents/carers to set access levels for content and for various online activities, including accepting new friend requests and chat with people who are not on the friends list.
More information can be found on http://www.xbox.com/familysettings
Most young people now have mobile phones allowing them to remain in contact with their friends and families. Most mobiles also allow access to the Internet, social networks and location based applications including the capacity to share and track people’s locations. This is difficult to monitor because the phone is probably only accessed by your child and keeping control over what they are doing can be difficult.
Location based applications can be extremely dangerous if used in a reckless way. They open up the opportunity for anyone to be aware of your child’s location at any time and be linked to the use of social networking sites, which have the capacity to show current location and who you are with to all who have been added as friends, and in some cases people who have not! Phones also provide unsupervised access to the Internet, and in most cases a digital camera, making the viewing and sending of inappropriate material easy and instant! All need to understand that once a digital image has been taken and sent on or posted there is no way to regain control of it!
What can you do?
Most network providers like O2 and Orange now provide services for parents/carers to restrict the information that is sent and in some cases location based services altogether. This can help in restricting material which may be rated as 18+ as well.
Location based services
Pay as you go 450
Pay monthly 150
Pay as you go 450
Pay monthly – apply online
Visit an Orange store
Content Control – 18+ Content
Register for content control online
Visit a Vodafone store
Content Control – 18+ Content
Text STRICT to 879
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
There are lots of sites designed to help parents/carers with making informed decisions about safety online. Some good sites are referenced below:
Visit Parents Protect - http://www.parentsprotect.co.uk/internet_safety.htm
Other useful links:
Think u know - http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk
Childnet - http://www.childnet-int.org
Get Safe Online - http://www.getsafeonline.org
Next Generation Learning -http://www.nextgenerationlearning.org.uk/At-Home/Internet-safety
Kid Smart - http://www.kidsmart.org.uk
Chat Dangers - http://www.chatdanger.com
Vodafone – Parents - http://parents.vodafone.com
Xbox Family - http://www.xbox.com/familysettings
PlayStation Network -http://eu.playstation.com
Facebook Privacy Guide - http://www.techlicious.com/tip/complete-guide-to-facebook-privacy-settings/
Social Networking – Staying Safe Online!
Students now spend more time in front of a computer or mobile phone than they do a TV. Social networking sites such as ‘Facebook’ are everyday mediums for many students and their parents and they can be accessed in many different ways. These sites actively encourage sharing personal information including pictures and video.
It should be noted that no child under 13 should have a ‘Facebook’ profile (and yet research shows 34% of 9-12 year olds have an account) one of the first things these children will have done is to lie about their age!
Social networking sites and messaging services (such as BBM) provide a wonderful way to communicate with friends and relatives. However, all too often at school (and especially on Mondays) incident and issues that occur result from inappropriate or unpleasant comments made by students online.
In school students are taught what they can and should do in these situations but as a school we have no control over what students are allowed to do outside of school hours. Where such bullying behaviour impacts on a child’s wellbeing at school we will, of course, take action. However, this ‘cyber-bullying’ generally starts outside the school.
A further worry is that social networking sites are known to attract online predators and others impersonating young people to target and groom children online.
It is important that all parents feel confident if they are to be able to give advice and help support parents the school has produced an E-Safety guide for parents that is available on the school website.
So how can you help your child socialise safely online?
Learn how to use a social networking site. Ask your child to show you how to use a social network site - getting involved will empower them to share the experience with you. Talk to your child about the issues that this new way of communicating will raise. Use the links below to understand how to set up parental controls.
Help your child understand what information should be private - never post your home address, full name or phone numbers etc
Learn how to use the privacy settings on the website. They can help to restrict and control the access that others have to your son or daughter's information.
Ensure your child only posts or sends information that they would be happy for you, their grandparents, teachers and even employers (in the future) to see. Remind them that once it is posted online you can't take it back! Increasingly young people are sending inappropriate pictures to each other which can then be shared or posted online, causing great embarrassment and significant upset.
Check out who they are talking to and check pictures being posted. Often students will add a 'friend' or a 'friend' of a 'friend' with no idea of who they really are!
Set up your own account and get them to add you as a friend - you could make this a condition of them having an account
Remember that any user can block someone else from communicating with them via social network websites - this should be a first course of action for you or your child if you are at all concerned.
If you wish to find out more information the following websites may prove useful:
Child exploitation and online protection Centre (CEOP): www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents
Vodafone's guide to digital parenting: www.parents.vodafone.com
Click the logo above to visit www.parentinfo.org