Online Safety Advice for Parents and Carers during Covid 19 Pandemic
Many parents will be encouraging their children to make good use of technology during the coming weeks, including using social media to keep in touch with family and friends. Parents and carers will want to make sure their children are as safe as possible online; therefore we have attached some useful advice and guidance.
Almost all devices allow parental controls to be set. These can be adjusted depending on the ages of the children. They can:
- Stop children putting new apps on a device until the parents approve them
- Reduce the chance of a child accidentally spending money on virtual goods
- Limit the time that children use a device without having a break
A good starting point is the Internet Matters website https://www.internetmatters.org/
Go to the SETTING CONTROLS section at the top.
Talking to your Child
Another effective way of keeping your child safe online is to talk to them regularly about how they use technology, which apps and sites they use and who their online friends are. Some children may have negative experiences online – for example sending or receiving hurtful messages. Parents and carers will be able to help guide youngsters through this difficult time. If children receive unpleasant messages, these can usually be reported. Each app or site will have a different way of doing this. Children should also be reminded to use strong passwords and not share them with friends https://www.o2.co.uk/help/nspcc/tools-and-tips.
Apps and Sites
The list of apps and websites children are using grows by the minute. In the UK, the NSPCC’s site, NetAware https://www.net-aware.org.uk/ explains many current apps and the risks and the benefits of their use. More apps are listed on the American site Common Sense Media https://www.commonsensemedia.org/ .
The following guide features what children do online, the threat of online strangers and how to ensure a healthy balance between Internet use, your children’s online privacy, digital security, and more on online safety to mention.
Activities for Children
ThinkUknow https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ is a website aimed at children and their parents set up by the National Crime Agency. It has lots of useful suggestions and advice on how to report issues. It also has games and activities including ‘Jessie and Friends’ for younger children and ‘Band Runner’ for older ones. It has recently produced some online activity packs to support parents during the closure of schools. Each fortnight, they will be releasing new packs with simple 15 minute activities you can do with your child to support their online safety at a time when they will spending more time online at home.
For young children, being tricked into sharing pictures of themselves can be an issue. LGfL has produced a child-friendly video https://undressed.lgfl.net/ which has some great advice and a very catchy song!
The NSPCC has teamed up with O2 https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-we-do/about-us/partners/nspcc-o2-online-safety-partnership/ to provide advice to parents, and has a free helpline: 0808 800 5002 offering support (you do not have to be an O2 customer to access this).
Since 2015, it has been a criminal offence for an adult to send a message with sexual content to a child (Section 67 of the Serious Crime Act 2015). If you are concerned that this might have happened, please preserve the evidence and contact the police – either by phone or on the Thinkuknow website https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ .
And finally, don’t forget that children can call Childline on 0800 1111 anytime for advice about anything that is worrying them.