Internet and Mobile Phone Safety
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In the children's section of our website we have included information for them about how to use the internet and their mobile phones safely. In this section you will find information and advice which may be useful to you as a parent or a carer and also links to useful websites.
The internet is now part of everyday life. We use it to work, shop, play games and catch up with family and friends. Technology develops at an amazing speed, bringing more and more opportunities for the user. But it also brings some risks and can leave people vulnerable to fraud or abuse.
Child exploitation has devastating effects on children, both physical and mental. Exploitative adults have been quick to use the Internet as a tool; they are very sophisticated and well practiced in how they approach children. Recent high profile cases in the news have revealed that Internet chat rooms can be used by paedophiles to establish deceptive relationships with children. They then ‘groom’ children to become victims, either psychologically on the Internet itself, or by arranging to actually meet with them. Often victims believe that they are chatting to other children online.
Children are fascinated by the ‘adult’ world, but there are measures you can take to protect your child from online risks and help them make the most of the Internet safely. Be sensitive to changes in your child’s behaviour. It is up to attentive adults to recognise the signs of sexual exploitation. Recent research from the NSPCC revealed that one in five 9 to16 year-olds use Internet chat rooms.
You may also want to read A Parent's Guide to Facebook, which is designed to help you understand what Facebook is and how it can be used safely. You will be better informed and able to communicate more effectively about Facebook with your children. As the internet becomes increasingly social and mobile, a parent's guidance and support are ever more key to young people's well-being in social media and technology.
An Internet Safety Guide for Parents at Choose.net covers the main free services available from companies such as Norton to UK ISPs as well as the services already built in to most operating systems. It also looks at how parents can actually get the most use from these services, for example where they don't do everything, as well as how they could help to prevent or at least detect cyberbullying. Information is requently updated.
Get Safe Online is another site where you will find advice and updates on keeping your children safe online.
There are ways in which you can help to protect your child online and ensure that the Internet is a safe way to learn and have fun.
- Ask your Internet Service Provider or local computer specialist about installing parental controls, which can prevent your child accessing websites with sexual content. These methods cannot provide a total safeguard but do offer some degree of protection.
- Learn all you can about the Internet. Share internet time with your children - it's the quickest way to learn
- Take an interest in your child's hobbies and friends and get to know who your child is chatting to
- Make sure all family members know not to give out personal or financial information
- Help your child understand that not everyone is who they claim to be online
- Let them know it's ok to tell you if they come across something that worries them
- In the same way that you would teach your child about the dangers from strangers, warn your child about dangers on the Internet and lay down some ground rules regarding the time they spend online. If possible avoid your child going online in private, or at least ensure you have access to their computer.
- Make sure that they know they should never arrange to meet a new friend made on the Internet without a trusted adult present.
- Telephone numbers can be passed on very easily and it's impossible to control where they might end up. The same goes for pictures taken with a camera phone - Remember, once an image is sent there is no control where it goes
If your child does experience some form of exploitation, whether mild or severe, it is crucial to be 100% supportive, make it clear that it is not their fault and that you are there to help and protect them no matter what. Local police are specially trained to counter these forms of exploitation and offer support to children and parents or you can report your concerns to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)
Assure your child that you believe what they are telling you. Explain in your own way why these things happen and avoid making them feel ashamed or foolish about what they have experienced. Let them know that you will protect them from further harm
There are some useful websites at the links below which will take you to external websites.