Internet Safety Advice for Parents
Parents naturally worry about the dangers of their children accessing the internet. In many families the children and young people are far more knowledgeable about new technology or social networking sites than their parents. It is also important to keep the dangers in proportion and to recognise that the internet can be a hugely rich source of beneficial information, that social networking can be fun and stimulating and that most people use technology very conscientiously.
There are however, dangers lurking in the world of the internet and social networking, including:
- Exposure to inappropriate or shocking content involving sexual images or violence
- Risk of financial exploitation from identity theft or the misuse of financial data
- Grooming by adults posing as younger people with a view to actual sexual assault
- Embarassment caused by inappropriate photos being more widely circulated than was intended
- Risk to future employment through employers finding inappropriate comments or images, perhaps after they have been re-posted by others
There are measures that parents can take to minimise these risks, such as;
- Participate in browsing with children
- Set limits on browsing, ie only in family areas
- Utilising the parental control settings supplied by the Internet Service Providers (ie BT, Virgin Media, Sky etc)
- Installing specialised software that can block access to certain content or record attempts to access particular sites
- Talk to your children about the risks of not keeping material private. Suggest that anything they would not be happy to display on a poster in the High Street (photos, phone numbers, movements etc) should not be displayed on social networking sites other than privately
Detailed guidance on these matters can be found on the website of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection service (CEOP) www.ceop.police.uk
and www.thinkuknow.co.uk which contains information aimed at specific age groups.