Here's What Schools Would Normally Be Telling Children About Internet Safety
When our children are at school, they get lots of internet safety education as it is now a legal requirement for schools to provide it.
During the lockdown, we have seen children use the internet more than ever, whether they are learning, playing, or even socialising. To be honest, you’d be hard-pressed to prise them away from some sort of screen now.
Even though there are some fantastic benefits of them being online, there are also a few risks with regards to internet safety. They would normally get this from their teachers at school, however, as we are on lockdown, this isn’t possible at the moment.
So, as a parent, you’re probably keen on a little information and guidance.
What do you need to know?
There are many different types of risks. Some are financial by way of online scams, physical in the form of child grooming and sexual abuse, and also hidden ones that can affect them emotionally, such as bullying and shaming.
Even though they are different, you generally find different levels of intensity and severity, but they are all harmful.
The important thing is; children should be able to come to you and not feel ashamed or judged if they come across anything they are unsure about or anything they find harmful. The earlier you’re made aware, the better.
One of the best ways to combat any form of online abuse is for your children to develop a digital resilience. This means:
* They have a basic understanding that there could be things online that may harm them.
* They understand that help is there if they need it.
* If they come across anything that could potentially be harmful, they take note and learn how to detect it in the future
* If they are subjected to anything, it’s important for them to know that they can recover from it and again, help is there should they need it.
How to go about it
We should constantly be monitoring what our children are doing online anyway, but a great starting point is to ask.
Ask them what they are looking at and why they like to spend so much time on certain websites. The more you ask, the more you’ll learn. You’ll find lots more information on digital resilience on Parent Info.
The Be Internet Legends hub on Parent Zone is a fantastic resource that provides a ton of tools for parents to help their children during this lockdown. It is endorsed by the PSHE Association and backed by the government.
It also has strong ties to Google, who helped develop it. This makes sense and is understandable seeing as these children will most likely be major users of the platform in the future.
We’re so used to sharing everything we come across these days, it can sometimes skew what is reasonable to share and what isn’t. It’s down to parents to teach their children what is and what isn’t appropriate to share and the importance of choosing strong passwords and logins and not giving it out online.
If you’re happy for them to share certain content, such as website addresses or a particularly streaming series or programme, that’s totally fine.
As long as they understand that they need to be careful at all times and if in doubt, to ask for your permission or guidance.
Fake news is everywhere we look nowadays and even though we all know about it, it isn’t always obvious to our youngsters. We mentioned online scams earlier being of a financial nature.
There are also lots of websites and news sites that are designed to mislead and use vulnerable children to spread different types of propaganda and lies, for example, about the use of treatments and vaccines in today’s climate.
If you’re unsure how to handle this and need a bit more help, you can always try going through some of these sites with your child and explaining to them what is true and what isn’t.
A few clues of fake news are:
* Random games that pop up and demand that you act quickly.
* A website asking you to download something even though you didn’t request to download anything.
* A lot of spelling and grammar mistakes which could mean that the site was constructed by someone who is not an English speaker.
* Strange-looking web addresses (URLs) where there are a lot of odd characters you wouldn’t ordinarily see.
Concern for others
We always assume that the issue might be with our own children. However, this might not always be the case. They might be in contact with a friend or another member of the family who has an issue or who has stumbled across something they knew wasn’t safe or could cause harm.
Ordinarily, your child could speak to their teacher if they suspected something, but, they are not currently in constant contact with them, it’s important you fill this role and take notice if their mood or personality starts to change, indicating that they may have seen something they weren’t supposed to see, or has caused some distress.
Block/report/tell an adult
As I have mentioned before, it’s important that your child knows they can come to speak to you whenever they want and that they understand that anything that happens online can be stopped.
You can always have a person or website blocked and you can even report them. The government has also published guidance on keeping children safe online during the coronavirus crisis, which has more detailed information.
Just remember, your child needs to know that they won’t be judged if they come to you for help. It’s also OK if they don’t want to talk to you about it, but prefer to talk to your partner. Whoever they feel comfortable talking to, they should do so.
- Parent Zone’s parent guides cover reporting to different apps and platforms
- Contact NCA-CEOP if you are worried about child sexual abuse
- You can talk to Childline anonymously on 0800 1111
- If you see sexual images or videos of someone under 18 online, you can report to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)
- If you’re worried about radicalising content, you can get help on the Educate Against Hate website
- You can report material promoting extremism and terrorism through the government’s online reporting tool
If you haven’t read them already. Please check out our other resource articles: -
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