This week we are looking at tips and advice with regards to protecting your child from inappropriate contact online. The information below is provided by CEOP (UK). The CEOP is a division of the National Crime Agency (NCA) and is committed to protecting children online. It is a partner with the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) and in alliance with Interpol.
How to protect children from inappropriate contact: Look out for your child moving to new platforms to chat. Offenders sometimes encourage young people to move from a public forum, to a game, or more private chat apps or sites. Here, they are able to have private conversations that are likely to be less moderated. It’s always a good idea to remind your child to be wary of people who want them to chat privately. Have conversations with your child about the new apps they are using and who they may be talking to. You can also find information on parental controls to help you to keep track of the apps your child may be installing and ways you can keep them safe.
Use webcam and devices in public spaces. As young people develop, they often seek more privacy and autonomy in both their online and offline world. However, it’s important to consider whether your child is developmentally ready to be left unsupervised whilst gaming or chatting. In particular, younger children can struggle to identify risks they may face whilst online and require supervision to learn these skills. Encourage young people to use their devices in spaces where some level of supervision is possible, for example, a family room or living room.
Encourage your child to identify safe and trusted adults. In their offline world, children are often taught to do as they are told and follow adult instruction. From teachers to parents, most young people are socialised to accept adult’s authority. Some offenders rely on this acceptance and use young people’s trust in adults to harm them. Help your child to identify adults that are there to help them from ones who they do not know. Encourage their digital literacy by helping them to identify sources on the internet that they can trust and places they should be more cautious. Reinforce the idea that on the internet, adults should not be giving young people instructions or telling them what to do. Young people should ask someone they trust if they are unsure. Visit www.thinkuknow.co.uk for information on how to help develop your child’s digital resilience.
Thinkuknow is the education programme from NCA-CEOP, a UK organisation which protects children both online and offline.
Make sure your child knows where to go for support. Children can sometimes feel partly to blame if something goes wrong online. Remind your child that they can always speak to an adult they trust if they are worried no matter what may have happened. Take time to know how to report on social media sites and apps to prevent offenders continuing to harm.