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Internet Safety Hero Image (1)

Keeping Your Child Safe Online

Increasingly, our children live in a digital, online world. Use of mobile phones, laptops, tablets and gaming devices, and therefore the internet, is now very much a part of our day-to-day existence. In many ways, such devices have made our lives easier, richer and more interconnected. However, the use of the internet poses many risks to children that we must understand and work to tackle. Understanding and subsequently minimising risk reduces the possible online dangers to your child – in particular, drastically reducing the possibility of your child being exploited online.

It is of vital importance that as parents, we understand the digital world and get involved in this online world with our children. What online games is your child playing? What apps have they downloaded? Use and experience the same apps, social media and games as your children, and talk to your children about them – openly and often.

 

Unrestricted online access puts your child at risk of viewing inappropriate content, bullying, grooming, sextortion, loss of privacy, radicalisation and digital tattoo issues. One way to begin tackling this is to become part of the groups your child is in, such as their closed friendship groups on ‘WhatsApp’. Another is to talk openly with your children about issues such as the taking of inappropriate selfies and sexting. Ensure that the whole family are aware of the risks of online gaming, including the fact that strangers can contact children via these games and therefore groom them online.

 

It is important that you control and restrict online access for your children. You can utilise the parental controls offered by internet service providers, web browsers, games consoles and video streaming services (such as ‘Netflix’). Have your children use only safe search engines (such as ‘Google SafeSearch’), to help ensure that your children do not come across inappropriate images, videos and websites. You could also use online safety software such as ‘Azoomee’, as well as mobile phone monitoring apps such as ‘Qustodio’, ‘Spyzie’ or ‘FamilyTime’.

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Another way to help keep your children safe online is to stick to the age restrictions for online applications and games. These age restrictions are there for good reason. Only permitting your child to access age-appropriate apps reduces the risk of your child being exposed to not only inappropriate content but other online dangers that they are not yet ready to cope with successfully themselves.

 

Further to this, avoid file sharing on your home devices (such as the use of ‘Putlocker’ and ‘123Movies’), and ensure that your child does not use file sharing
websites either. This helps to minimise the risk of devices becoming infected with malware or spyware, and files and device cameras from being corrupted. Disable the GPS (Global Positioning System) on your family’s personal devices. This will help to prevent strangers online from finding out where your child lives and goes to school.

 

Work with your child to encourage positive social media posting, in order to improve your child’s online brand or digital tattoo. Your child’s online presence (such as on ‘Twitter’ and ‘LinkedIn’, and via blogging) can be built up to represent them positively, ready for when they apply to university and for employment.

 

Keeping children safe online is a team effort, so do speak to the staff at your school about this too. Every Nord Anglia Education school has a Designated Safeguarding Lead. This staff member is your first port of call for all matters pertaining to student safeguarding and child protection. Increasingly in schools, there is also an Online Safety Officer, whose role is specifically to help keep all children, and school staff, safe online. Indeed, all of the staff at your Nord Anglia
Education school are regularly trained in online safety, safeguarding and child protection, so they are a great resource to parents when considering new measures to help keep your children safe in their online world.

 

So keep in close contact with the staff at school as well as with your child’s online world. Open communication with your child and a shared understanding of the dangers of the internet are vital in keeping your child safe online. By following the simple tips explained here, you can begin to feel secure in the knowledge that your child is not only having fun, and enjoying the benefits that being online can bring, but that they are also much more safe from online dangers and resultant harm.

Charlotte Thomas
Designated Safeguarding Lead
The British School Yangon