What is my child doing online?
Survey after survey suggest that very few parents are fully up to speed with what their youngsters are doing online. In fact, the only common theme seems to be that the internet is becoming increasingly integral to young people’s lives and that the gulf between the parent and their child is becoming ever wider. Users of online environments and other internet based technologies are getting younger and younger- children as young as eight are now navigating their way around online environments with ease.
Recently published figures from Ofcom state that:
• 41% of 8-11 year olds regularly use the internet
• 37% of the same age group use mobile phones
• 56% play computer games online
• 7% of 10 year olds have the use of a web cam
So how do we as parents fight our way through this jungle of terminology and new technologies and get our children to confide in us? How do we understand what people will do to engage with young people online?
CEOP has a section within the www.thinkuknow.co.uk website specifically aimed at children aged eight to ten. Here they can learn about keeping themselves safe whilst online, and can also visit the unique Cybercafe, where they can help the characters within the café to stay safe whilst using new technologies. Parents are also able to visit the café with their children to see if there are things even they don’t know!
This Christmas, the CEOP Centre is encouraging anyone working with or looking after children to visit the ‘Purely for Parents’ section on www.thinkuknow.co.uk register for monthly email updates. These emails will provide those vital first steps to learning more about online safety for the whole family. They will cover the technologies and opportunities that are at your child’s finger tips in a simple easy-to-follow style as well as providing important information on how adults use the internet to meet young people, and what signs to look out for if you believe your children maybe engaging with strangers online.
Adopt these basic tips:
• Know what your children are doing online and who they are talking to - ask them to teach you to use any applications you have never used before.
• Keep the computer in a family room, not a child's bedroom - children will be less likely to engage in inappropriate activity if they know other people will be nearby.
• Help your children to understand that they should never give out personal details to online friends - personal information includes their instant messenger id, email address, mobile number and any pictures of themselves, their family or friends. If your child publishes a picture or video online, anyone can change it or share it.
• It is not a good idea for your child to open files that are from people they do not know, or any spam/ junk email and text messages - 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 - therefore it's better to keep online friends online. They should never meet up with any strangers without an adult they trust.
So this Christmas, when many children may use the internet for the first time to enjoy the online environment, sit down with your child and ask him to talk to you about what he does online. Remember, it’s never too late to learn!