Nobody is immune to encountering problems online but children are considered to be among the most vulnerable.
The internet is accessible anytime, anywhere through computers and smartphones and young people are spending more time on the devices than ever before, socialising and having fun.
They are, however, at an increased risk from cyberbullying, seeing inappropriate content and grooming.
Here are seven steps the NSPCC suggests parents take to keep their children safe online:
It’s important to start talking to your child about staying safe online at an early age. Keep conversations short but frequent.
- Explore online together
Ask them to show you what they like to do online, and show an interest.
- Know who they are talking to
Children may not think of strangers online as strangers – they may think of them as online friends. Explain it’s easy for people to lie about who they are online. You can also become ‘friends’ with your child on social networks.
- Agree boundaries
Set rules about when and for how long they can go online, the websites they can visit and how to treat people online.
- Check content is age-appropriate
Check the age ratings on the games they play or videos they watch, and make sure websites and social networks are suitable.
- Use parental controls
Internet Service Providers provide controls to restrict content, and many electronic devices such as laptops and smartphones allow you to do the same.
- Remind them about privacy
Make sure they are not sharing sensitive information online and tell them what to do if they are contacted by someone they don’t know.
For more information visit the NSPCC website.
- If you are in distress or need some support, the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day on 116 123 or visit their website.