During the school summer holiday, our students are likely to spend more time on their mobile phones, computers, laptops and tablets. Whether updating social media profiles, chatting with friends or playing games, their online use will increase considerably.
Here’s our advice to parents and carers to help them ensure their children are staying safe online.
Encourage open conversation
Firstly, recognise that it’s a given that your child’s online use is going to increase, so encourage an open conversation about what they are doing. Your child understanding that they will not be in trouble by simply being online will help them to open up if something happens that concerns them.
Learn what website the age restrictions are
Do you know whether your child is using websites that have age restrictions? The majority of social media platforms, including Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat, are restricted to children who are 13 years and older, and WhatsApp requires a minimum age of 16. Platforms such as Live.Me, Monkey and Meet Me are for over 18s only.
Complete a privacy check-up
Following negative publicity, all social media platforms updated their privacy settings to help protect users. Are your child’s social media profiles public? If so, ask them to change the settings so they can only engage and share information with people they know.
Chat about what pictures are appropriate
With many families heading off on holiday, children may want to share photos and videos of what they are up to. This could be pictures of them, or any images that show personal information or locations. Have a chat about what is and isn’t appropriate to share, and encourage them to get the approval of anyone they want to tag.
This goes for parents as well – you should be thinking about what you are sharing. Are you happy for pictures of your child to be on your own social media page if it’s public? Additionally, research carried out by Safer Internet Day found that two in five of he children (8 to 18 years of age) surveyed said that in the past year, photos they found embarrassing had been posted online by their parents.
Recognise when something is offensive
It’s easy to be anonymous online, so people may share and write things they wouldn’t dare say face-to-face. Talk to your child about what makes a comment offensive and encourage them to chat with you about anything someone says to them that they feel isn’t quite right. It can be easy to report offensive comments and block people, so go through this process with them. Also talk with them about being a good friend and discuss things they may say which could upset someone or be could be found offensive.
The digital world can be fun and can bring a lot of opportunities for your child, but we want them to be safe. We have a dedicated cyber safety page where you can get further information and links to additional advice.