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Online safety: How you can help protect your children

Sex offenders are increasingly using live video streaming platforms to access victims.

Talking to children about their online safety is vital.
Talking to children about their online safety is vital. PA

Paedophiles are found to be increasingly targeting their victims on live streams to groom and abuse them, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has warned.

Here's how you can keep your children safe online:

TALKING TO CHILDREN ABOUT ONLINE SAFETY

Talking about grooming can be a difficult subject to approach with your child. Internet Matters gives some helpful tips:

  • Be approachable: Let them know you are always there to help if they get into trouble online. Discuss with your child the importance of reporting inappropriate conversations, messages, images and behaviours.
  • Explore online together: Ask your children to show you what they like to do online, and show an interest.
  • Talk to them about online friendships: Find out what sites they go to and what they know about their online friends.
  • Discuss 'personal information': Be clear about personal information and what kind of things are dangerous to share with people they don't know such as addresses, name of school and phone numbers.
  • Teach them about online grooming: Talk to young people about grooming as you would describe 'stranger danger'. Tell them how easy it is to pretend to be someone else online. For older children, go to Think You Know for useful resources.
  • Agree on boundaries: Set rules about when and for how long they can go online, the websites they can visit, and what is appropriate.
Securing browsers and apps can help keep your family safe.
Securing browsers and apps can help keep your family safe. AP

TAKE CONTROL

  • Secure your devices: This interactive guide can help you learn about how to secure your devices.
  • Secure your search engines and internet browser: The UK Safer Internet Centre has a helpful guide on some of the most popular browsers and how to set up safe browsing and increase privacy settings. Encourage your child to use appropriate search engines and activate and lock the safe search settings on the browsers they use.
  • Use privacy settings on social media: Sites like Facebook have privacy settings that will help prevent your child seeing unsuitable advertising or sharing too much with other people.The UK Safer Internet Centre has a range of helpful social media guides that covers safety features on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
  • Disable geo-location: Check if any apps on your children's mobile devices have the geo-location enabled, and if so, turn it off, as it shares their location unintentionally.
  • Join their social network: Become "friends" with your child on social networks to allow you to see what they are posting.
Children can be encouraged to follow the SMART code.
Children can be encouraged to follow the SMART code. PA

ADVICE FOR CHILDREN

The UK Safer Internet Centre has also created a range of resources including quizzes, games and films to help children learn about internet safety.

They have created the following "SMART" advice for children and young people using the internet.

  • Safe: Keep safe by being careful not to give out personal information when you’re chatting or posting online. Personal information includes your email address, phone number and password.
  • Meet: Meeting someone you have only been in touch with online can be dangerous. Only do so with your parents’ or carers’ permission and even then only when they can be present. Remember online friends are still strangers even if you have been talking to them for a long time.
  • Accepting: Accepting emails, messages, or opening images or texts from people you don’t know or trust can lead to problems - they may contain viruses or nasty messages.
  • Reliable: Someone online might lie about who they are and information on the internet may not be true. Always check information by looking at other websites, in books, or with someone who knows. If you like chatting online it’s best to only chat to your real world friends and family.
  • Tell: Tell a parent, carer or a trusted adult if someone, or something, makes you feel uncomfortable or worried, or if you or someone you know is being bullied online.

THE WARNING SIGNS

Online grooming may be hard for parents and carers to detect as it often happens at home and perpetrators may warn children not to talk to anyone about it.

Internet Matters suggest the following warning signs could suggest that a child is being groomed online:

  • Wanting to spend more and more time on the internet
  • Being secretive about who they are talking to online and what sites they visit
  • Switching screens when you come near the computer
  • Possessing items – electronic devices or phones – you haven’t given them
  • Using sexual language you wouldn’t expect them to know
  • Becoming emotionally volatile
Reports of suspected grooming can be made to Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP).
Reports of suspected grooming can be made to Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP). PA

REPORTING CONCERNS

Children and young people and their parents can easily report any online abuse or concerns to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command.

If you are concerned that your child is in immediate danger, police advise you to call 999 immediately.

For advice or if your child is not ready to report it, they can get advice from ChildLine 24 hours a day on 0800 1111.

RESOURCES

  • Internet Matters provides a range of guidelines for parents and carers from social networks to the use of apps.
  • Safe Search Kids has a range of guides for parents and children as well as a safe search engine for young people to use.
  • The UK Safer Internet Centre has practical guides for young people aged 3-11, teenagers 11-19 as well as parents, carers and teachers.
  • Thinkuknow, is a website set up by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, and offers advice and guidance for both children and parents.
  • The NSPCC provides advice for parents and carers on how to talk about internet safety with young people.
  • The Metropolitan Police Service also provide internet safety advice.

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