Keep Safe Online – Keep Social Networks Real
You wouldn’t give a stranger lots of personal information in the real world, so it shouldn’t be any different online. Social networking is a huge part of most young people’s lives.
When used properly it’s a great way to socialise, catch up with friends and let people know what you’ve been up to. However, it has also become a bit of a social networking competition among young people to have the most popular page, with many of you trying to outdo friends by having more ‘followers’ or ‘friends’ than they do on Facebook or Twitter. But this is where the danger lies – you need to be careful about who you interact with. You’ve probably heard of ‘grooming’, which is when adults chat to young people online and pretend to be a lot younger than they really are. Unfortunately it’s really easy for criminals and groomers to create false social networking profiles. They can then try to build friendships, trick you into meeting them or even encourage you to do things you wouldn’t normally do.
Risks and dangers of being online
- Inappropriate content, including pornography
- Ignoring age restrictions
- Friending or communicating with people you do not know
- Sharing personal information
- Gambling or running up debts
Tips for parents/carers to keep your child safe online
- Have the conversation early and often
- Explore online together
- Know who your child is talking to online
- Set up rules and agree boundaries
- Make sure that content is age appropriate
- Use parental controls to filter, restrict, monitor or report content
- Check they know how to use privacy setting and reporting tools
Further information and guidance can be found from CEOP (Child Exploitation and On-line Protection Agency) via the ‘Thinkuknow’ website (www.thinkuknow.co.uk).
A series of Internet safety lessons is repeated periodically throughout your child’s school career, addressing the issues in more depth as your child becomes more mature.