The internet these days can be a scary thing, but it shouldn’t be. The media gives you all the horror stories about this and that happening but none of the good stuff which can be a huge worry for parents. If used correctly, the Internet is a powerful resource that can offer your child information at their finger tips that we used to have to go and spend hours down the local library trying to find. Below are a few tips and tricks that as a parent, you can follow and hopefully get rid of some of those fears.
We at CFS teach your child about the do’s and dont’s regarding internet safety but it’s worth educating them too so that it will become habit and they can become responsible surfers. Don’t be put off that your children may know more about the internet than you do, you know how to be safe whereas that is something they need to learn.
So, what are the risks to your children?
Accessing the internet can be done via a computer or with the use of a smartphone which can put your child at any of the following risks:
- Online bullying (also known as cyberbullying) which can also be done by text.
- Being contacted by and manipulated by adults (not always men, it can be women too) for sexual purposes (also known as grooming).
- Sending/receiving sexually explicit images, video or messages (also known as sexting if done via a mobile) of themselves or others.
- Sharing personal information with strangers.
- Viewing inappropriate (such as sexually explicit, violent, extremist or racist) content.
- Agressive advertising or marketing aimed at children.
- Children enabling viruses/malware/spyware onto your computer just to get to the next screen of the game.
The above list could make you think, “Well, that’s it, they are never going on it again” or “If they are going to use it, I am going to sit right next to them and watch everything they do”. As a parent, there are many things that you can do that will help you to breathe easy when your child wants to use the internet unsupervised from programs that run on your PC to a few rules that you could impliment.
Keeping your child safe while they surf
The best way to safeguard your child is to educate them with the risks, how to spot any and what to do when they have. Things do change and what may apply to your 11 year old with regards to surfing the internet is different to your 16 year old, so some good rules in place to show trust is always a boost. Below are a few ideas for you to try if you wish:
- Set ground rules about how they are to use the internet, emails, social media or texts.
- Use parental control settings. This can be part of the browser (Internet Explorer/Firefox/Chrome/Safari etc..), search engine (Google do this very well with SafeSearch) or the internet security package (such as Kaspersky/Norton Anti-Virus).
- Purchasing some form of parental control program (click HERE to see some free software available). There is also paid versions of software such as ‘Net Nanny’. Google is your friend, so searching for the package that suits you best may be necessary.
- Maybe having access only to the internet from a computer located in a shared room.
- Learning a bit of chatroom/text lingo. They can be very confusing for the best of us but a great site for chatroom and text acronyms can be found HERE to help you out. You could maybe even use one to see how it works (it’s always handy to know what you are talking about).
- Maybe having a family e-mail account so that when your child needs to register for a game/online competition/etc…you are aware of their online habits.
- This one is not really a safety issue but health issue regarding taking breaks. We are all guilty of sitting at a computer for hours and hours without a break, but we all should take a break. Make sure your child has a little bit of time away from the PC per hour (5-10 minutes).
Some of the above also applies to your different devices you may have in your home such as mobile phones, tablets and game consoles.
We hope the information above will help you feel that your children are safe while surfing the internet. Here are a few links for additional information but you can always use Google to help you with more specific problems.
For minor/day to day issues please contact your child’s Tutor or Head of Year
For any Safeguarding issues please contact Mrs Rhodes or Mrs Wheatcroft via the school office