With the ever-increasing use of digital media in society, it’s hard to know how to ensure that our children interact positively and stay safe online. Craig Batty, Assistant Head of Sydenham High School GDST, offers some advice

How many of us would describe ourselves as digital natives? Our children certainly are and, increasingly, they are accessing a multitude of apps, social media platforms, blogs and online gaming sites, often from their tablets or mobile phones. So, whether you are a native or an alien to digital, it’s likely that you will be playing catch-up with the way your children are using their devices. You might often wonder whether what they are doing on their devices is safe and whether you are being as good a parent online as you are offline.

The following suggestions might not lead to a stress-free home life, as you may face a bit of opposition, but a bit of tough love and robust but caring systems will make their online lives more secure… generally it’s all about communication:

How to keep your children safe online

1 Remove internet-enabled devices from the bedroom. Devices should be used in public areas of the home, such as the kitchen or living room. Children are more likely to take risks in what feels like a private area – remember not everyone is who they say they are online.

2 Talk to your children about the apps, blogs and social media sites they are using – are they age-appropriate? Most advise that users should be over 13 (e.g. Snapchat, Instagram) some over 16 (e.g. WhatsApp) and some over 17 (e.g. Vine).

3 Discuss with your children which social networking sites they are using and look at the privacy settings together to ensure that they are keeping personal information secure.


4 Talk to your children about which apps they are using and whether they have geotagging. CEOP (The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) advise that this feature should be switched off, as it pinpoints your location. 

5  If your child has a mobile phone, ensure that the privacy settings are enabled and location services are switched off. Service providers can help apply parental control settings on all internet-enabled devices and home networks, or provide information about particular mobile models.

6  Visit thinkuknow.co.uk/parents to read information and watch CEOP films about online risks such as cyberbullying, grooming, inappropriate websites and losing control over pictures and videos. Watch the films with your children and discuss the themes.

7 If you suspect that your child is facing an online risk, offer reassurance and support, keep the evidence and learn how to report incidents. Visit ceop.police.uk for further advice, or “Click CEOP” which is an icon on many social media websites.

8 Ensure that your child knows how to take a screen shot on their devices to capture any inappropriate content as evidence.


9 Have open communication with your children. Using the thinkuknow resources is a great way to open dialogue about their online life and shows them that you understand the complexities of the issues faced. Hopefully they will feel secure in approaching you if they feel out of control or uncomfortable with something they see online.

The above text is an extract from an article which is available at sydenhamhighschool.gdst.net

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