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Safer internet day, now in its sixth year, is coordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre. The day sees hundreds of organisations involved in promoting safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.
I’m often asked how you can protect children online. It is difficult, no matter how tech savvy you are be honest your children have grown-up with the technology all around them and they will be a step ahead of you. Below we’ve got the top official tips from the Department for Education. I’m pleased to see that they’ve got talking to your children about the dangers at number one, well ahead of any technical solutions.
My quick checklist for keeping your kids safe online is:
Talk to them and explain the dangers and wonders of the Internet.
Set-up all the protection you can, for example activate your ISP’s adult content filter. I’m sure these days the means of bypassing these filters will be common playground knowledge but it’s better than nothing.
You are the parent and it’s your responsibility to look at their internet history and try and keep them safe – you are not being nosy or intruding, it’s your responsibility. Of course Internet browser history is easily cleared and many browsers have options for switching it off completely.
Make sure that your children don’t have Admin Rights on the computers they use. This will mean that they can’t install unauthorised software without you entering the Admin password.
Most broadband routers have an option to disable WiFi at certain times, turn it off at bedtime.
Don’t allow computers, mobiles, tablets etc in the bedrooms. Set computers up in a family room where you can keep an eye on what’s happening.
Windows 10 has a useful feature where it can email you a summary of your child’s activity each week. Sadly Apple haven’t done this yet on the Mac!
If you have the technical skills set-up an Internet traffic monitor on your broadband connection. This will log all the sites that are visited and which devices are in your house are doing it. It takes a bit of skill and some kit to do this but it’s well worth while. (It’s a great way to spot if there’s any malware in your house calling back to a controller as well!).
I would encourage Children not to post anything online that will hang around and embarrass them in years to come, with new friends, work colleagues etc.
Tips for parents on internet safety from The Department for Education and UK Safer Internet Centre
Have an open and honest dialogue with children about staying safe online
Encourage them to tell you which sites they might be using and talk to about anything they see online
Set boundaries and make an agreement on what they can and cannot do online. If the agreement is broken, restrict internet access for an agreed period of time
Read up on information available through schools and official sites, such as ParentInfo, to make sure you are aware of issues and armed with information
Arm your children with advice:
Be careful what you say online. Respect others and do not retaliate or reply to offending e-mails, text messages or online conversations – leave the conversation
Be careful what pictures or videos you upload. Once a picture is shared online it cannot be taken back
Only add people you know and trust to friends/followers lists online
What is government doing about internet safety?
In 2014 the government made internet safety a compulsory part of the curriculum. Schools are also able to teach e-safety during PSHE lessons and every school is required by law to have measures in place to prevent all forms of bullying including cyber-bullying.
In December last year the government also announced strengthened measures to protect children from harm online – including cyberbullying, pornography and the risk of radicalisation. Under the proposals all schools will:
Need to have appropriate filters and monitoring systems, so that no child can access harmful content via the school’s IT systems and concerns can be spotted quickly;
Be required to ensure that they teach their pupils about safeguarding, including online.
The government also announced a further package of measures including:
Two practical guides on social media – including one to help parents keep their children safe online produced by the UK’s Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCISS) – to help children understand the risks and benefits of social media, and prevent risks becoming problems.
New online training, launched in the new year, will offer support for professionals, including nurses, doctors and teachers who work with children and young people.
An updated Thinkuknow site offers a completely refreshed suite of articles and guidance on all aspects of child internet safety, as well as providing specific advice for parents and carers on preventing their children from becoming victims of sexual abuse and exploitation both online and in the ‘real world; and
New industry-led awareness raising initiatives including Google’s ‘Internet Legends’tour which will travel around the country delivering assemblies to school children in 40 locations during this school year, to help kids stay safe online, so they can get the most out of all that the internet can offer.
In addition ParentInfo, a new government funded online service, offers free expert advice to schools on how children and young people can stay safe online. This information, packed as a Tool Kit, can be hosted on individual schools websites making it easily accessible to parents and carers who can then discuss these important issues at home. It’s already available in 2,500 schools giving parents practical advice and tips on issues such as sexting, and online bullying.
We have given schools powers to help them contain cyber-bullying during the school day by banning or limiting the use of mobiles and other electronic devices. Teachers also have the power to search for, and if necessary delete, inappropriate images (or files) on electronic devices, including mobile phones.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:
“As a parent I understand the real importance of internet safety in protecting our children. The internet is a powerful tool which can have brilliant and virtually limitless benefits, but with this does come some risk.”
“We are working hard to address these online risks but we can’t do it alone, parents are vitally important in making sure that children stay safe online. We want to make sure young people are educated, and parents as well as teachers, are knowledgeable and actively involved in promoting internet safety so that children are able to safely enjoy all that new technologies have to offer”
If you have any questions or advice please leave a comment below. I’ll try and research any questions and get back to you probably in the form of a follow-up blog.
I get hundreds of press releases and most don’t register with me but one this week from AVG Technologies did catch my eye. It was all about Internet security for toddlers and young children especially where they are using connected toys and services.
Personally I don’t let my children have access to YouTube when I’m not around because I don’t feel some of the adverts are suitable for the age group that the content is aimed at. I’ve decided to pay extra for content and get it from Amazon and iTunes rather than risk inappropriate and upsetting adverts to be seen.
The study reveals the amount of time today’s kids are spending online and the impact of internet-connected toys on their increasing screen time.
Headline findings from the research (conducted among 2,200 UK parents) include:
– One in six (16%) 4-6 year olds spend up to six hours online each day, a massive 2,190 hours every year
– This figure is three times higher than the UK average of two hours a day, for 4-16 year olds
– Two thirds (66%) of kids own one or two smart devices by the time they’re six
So, with internet-enabled toys – or ‘Connected Cuddlies’ – topping charts this Christmas it’s likely that these ‘soft toys’ could significantly increase the 2,000+ hours online kids are already enjoying. It also raises the question of the kind of connected services these toys will allow children to access.
As such, AVG is calling for parents to be increasingly aware of the type of toys – and subsequent connected commitments – they’re buying their children this holiday season.
In a future blog I’ll look at how you can monitor your home Internet connection to see what is being sent and received into and out of your house.