Internet safety: advice for parents and carers

Systemagic’s Senior Technician Scott is our resident expert on all things e-safety – he holds an EPICT  e-safety qualification, is NSPCC trained and used to run e-safety training for Colleges.  On Safer Internet Day 2017 he gives his top tips for parents:

The Internet has revolutionized the way we live; by changing the face of communications, the way we conduct business, manage finances, its changed the way we educate, shop, and entertain ourselves… and the list goes on… but despite all these great benefits, there are dangers to both young people and adults. The scope of Internet safety topics is enormous but this blog hopefully highlights a few key issues and offer some advice and guidance to help young people in your care stay safe online.

Cyberbullying

A form of bullying that takes place through an electronic format such as social networking sites, smartphones, tablets, gaming etc. It can be very distressing to the recipient as it can take place 24 hours a day and due to the nature of electronic communications can escalate quicker. Cyberbullying, like other forms of bullying, can affect an individual’s self-esteem and can have a detrimental effect on mental health and wellbeing, in the worst cases leading to self-harm and suicide.

For more information, advice and guidance on dealing with Cyberbullying please read our Cyber Bullying Factsheet 

Pornography

It’s important as carers of young people to help them understand the impact pornography can have.

Pornography is easily available to all users of the internet and young people can very easily encounter sexual images online, whether by accident or intentionally looking for it. The UK Safer Internet Centre report that research conducted on over 1000 young people over half (53%) of 11-16 year olds had been exposed to online pornography.  Just over half of boys (53%) believed that the pornography they had seen was realistic compared to 39% of girls and that 42% had stated that it has given them ideas that they would like to emulate in their relationships.

As parents and carers it is our responsibility to help young people understand the impact that of pornography and the effects it can have on them and future relationships. It is normal behavior for young people to be curious about sexuality and relationships and often they turn to the internet to find the information as they feel uncomfortable asking their parents or carer.

There are no real technological guidelines to follow apart from using parental controls and filtering software, which are readily available online and some ISPs have them built in to your accounts, but arguably young people need to have the appropriate advice and education.

Visit : https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-porn/ for useful advice.

Sexting

The term ‘sexting’ describes the use of technology to share sexual text, image or video. The sharing of explicit pictures is not new thing but the speed these can be distributed has dramatically changed.  There are also serious legal implications regarding sexting.

For more information, advice and guidance on dealing with Sexting please read our Systemagic Sexting Factsheet

Social Networking

Sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are forever growing in popularity with young people. They are great sites to enhance creativity, communicate with friends as well as sharing photos etc. but they are not without dangers.

Young people need to understand their digital footprint, this includes what they post and who they interactive with. They often see Social networking as private spaces and it is often difficult to make them understand that is not often the case. Young people need to be educated that the line between public and private is often blurred and this can endanger them in two ways. These are categorised as: Content and Contact bernmhu.

Content: Depending on the nature of the material being posted, if a young person creates inappropriate, offensive or illegal content this could get them in trouble with their school or college, friends or even break the law.  They also need to understand that once content is posted online can be copied, altered and reposted by anyone and it is very difficult to ‘take back’ things that may be later regretted. This can damage their reputations and even future prospects.

Contact: The sharing of too much information is the one of the biggest dangers online. Young people need to be aware of how much personal information they upload onto these sites as they could be exposing their information to strangers and as a result be at risk of online contact, grooming and cyberbullying. Young people should be advised on setting appropriate privacy settings, how to manage their online profiles and where they go for help.

 

There are many technological solutions that can be put in place such as filtering tools to protect young people and these can play a vital role and I am strong believer that these should be in every establishment that allow children to access the internet. However, we also need to educate all users of the internet of what these dangers are so they become ingrained in the education of our children. This requires educators, parents, carers and suppliers to be trained in internet safety to help combat threats and minimise the dangers future generations face.

Useful resources

https://www.nspcc.org.uk/

https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/

http://www.gcflearnfree.org/internetsafetyforkids/

Back to our blog
Get in touch today