The impact of COVID-19 means that most of us will be at home for an extended period and are likely to be spending increasing amounts of time online. For this reason, it’s imperative you understand how to navigate safely online. The online world is a necessity for many of our students in accessing school work and it delivers huge benefits, not least in enabling us to stay connected to family and friends during this period.
Although rare, there is a risk that increased online activity and feelings of stress and isolation may be exploited by negative influences and online groomers of all kinds to target vulnerable children and young people directly.
What steps can I take to keep safe online?
If you have downloaded new apps or bought new technology to help stay connected at this time, remember to review and adjust privacy and safety settings if you’ve signed up to a new online service.
Should I be concerned that a loved one is being exploited online?
The above are merely signs that they might need help, but you know your child best and you will want to speak with them first. Check-in with them and ask about what they are viewing, who they are speaking to and how they are feeling. This might feel difficult, but here are some pointers to help you:
• Listen carefully to their fears and worries. Find some helpful tips here.
• Avoid explanations that could be interpreted as antagonistic, belittling or frightening. – Advice and support are available to help them understand COVID-19.
• If they are finding it hard to cope with bereavement and grief – advice can be found here.
There are resources available to help you understand and protect your child from different harms online.
• Educate Against Hate Parents’ Hub provides resources and government advice for parents and carers on keeping young people safe from extremism.
• Let’s Talk About It provides support for parents and carers to keep children safe from online radicalisation.
• UK Safer Internet Centre has guides on the privacy settings, parental controls and internet safety features of the major internet service providers.
• Parent Zone works with Prevent to provide digital safety advice for parents.
• Thinkuknow provides resources for parents and carers to help keep children safe online.
• Childnet has developed guidance for parents and carers to begin a conversation about online safety, and on keeping under-fives safe online.
• Parent Info provides digital support and guidance for parents and carers from leading experts and organisations
• NSPCC guidance for parents and carers is designed to help keep children safe online. Their Net Aware website, produced in collaboration with O2, provides specific safety information on popular apps and websites.
• Childline can provide advice and support if your child is worried, from dialling 0800 1111 or downloading the ‘For Me’ app.