Many students have broadband internet access at home. They will use services such as MSN Messenger and may have their own profiles set up on social networking sites such as Bebo, Facebook and MySpace. A huge growth area is on-line gaming, not just on a computer, but through games consoles.
Whilst many Internet Service Providers offer filtering systems to help you safeguard your child at home, it remains surprisingly easy for students to access inappropriate material including unsuitable texts, pictures and movies.
Locating the computer in a family area, not a bedroom, will enable you to keep an eye on your child as they use the Internet. Don’t deny them the opportunity to learn from the wide variety of material and games available on the Internet. Instead discuss with them some simple rules for keeping them safe and make sure they understand their importance. Use these simple guidelines in your discussions
- Help your children to understand that they should never give out personal details to online friends they do not know offline.
- Explain to your children what information about them is personal: i.e. email address, mobile number, school name, sports club, arrangements for meeting up with friends and any pictures or videos of themselves, their family or friends. Small pieces of information can easily be pieced together to form a comprehensive insight in to their lives and daily activities.
- Make your children aware that they need to think carefully about the information and pictures they post on their profiles. Inform them that once published online, anyone can change or share these images of them.
- It can be easy to forget that the internet is not a private space, and as result sometimes young people engage in risky behaviour online. Advise your children not to post any pictures, videos or information on their profiles, or in chat rooms, that they would not want a parent or carer to see.
- If your child receives spam or junk email and texts, remind them never to believe their contents, reply to them or use them.
- It’s not a good idea for your child to open files that are from people they don’t know. They won’t know what they contain—it could be a virus, or worse – an inappropriate image or film.
- Help your child to understand that some people lie online and that therefore it’s better to keep online mates online. They should never meet up with any strangers without an adult they trust.
- Always keep communication open for a child to know that it’s never too late to tell someone if something makes them feel uncomfortable.
It is also a good idea to regularly check the Internet sites they are visiting e.g. by clicking on History and Favorites. Please reassure them that you want to keep them safe rather than take Internet access away from them. Create a dialogue and a relationship of mutual respect as far as the Internet is concerned.
CEOP have produced a new website with information on eSafety “Purely for Parents”.
Some other useful websites