Parents

The internet has changed society in the way we communicate, share and learn new skills using websites and apps on our smartphone or tablet. Many people could not do their daily job without email and schools need it, to ensure that students can access the latest online resources.

“We have to remember that it is behaviour not the technology that is the problem.”

The internet is an amazing invention, but we have to remember that the way people use it reflects the world we live in. The vast majority of users will use the technology in a positive way, however there are people who will use it to groom, abuse and scam others. We have to remember that it is behaviour not the technology that is the problem.

This page highlights how to support your children at different ages, highlighting some useful videos that you can watch with your child.For parents and carers, the internet and access to digital technology means that there is a whole new level of parenting that goes beyond just teaching our children to cross the road safely. The main issue for some parents is that whilst we all know how to cross the road safely, it can be much harder to know what different apps and digital devices can do. This is why it is important to learn together with our children.

0-5 Years

“It is important that we talk to our babies and toddlers. Don’t use your tech as a digital dummy”

Many children are introduced to technology from an early age and it is important that we talk to our babies and toddlers. Don’t use your tech as a digital dummy. Within their early development, children need to experience a wide variety of activities and access to the internet and technology should be just one part of it.

When they take the first steps in using the internet, they need to do it under parental supervision. In a way, it is very much like reading a book where the parent sits down and reads a story. Cbeebies (http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies) is a popular site where parents and young children can read and play games.

The most important message for parents and carers is to ensure that children can talk to you if they see something they don’t like on the internet. As they get older, you will have to give them the responsibility of accessing the internet on the own and they need to know what to do, if a site or image worries them.

It is also important that they know not to give out too much personal information which will enable people to know where they live or what school they go to. Also, children need to be aware that people will set up false profiles and so it is very hard to know exactly who someone is.

Two useful online resources are:

Digiduck

Smartie The Penguin

It is advisable to also restrict access to certain content when they are using search engines and surfing the web. Google and You Tube have ‘safe settings’ on their sites and you can also enable family filtering from your internet service provider (ISP). Many digital devices such as the IPad also have settings which can restrict the use of certain apps eg. Facetime.

A useful website to find out how to enable parental settings is: http://www.internetmatters.org/

6-11 Years

As children move up through primary school, the internet will play a bigger part of their lives. At school, they will begin learning the importance of coding and they will use many websites to help them improve their literacy and numeracy skills. At home, they will use more devices which have internet connectivity such as tablets, gaming consoles and media boxes. Whilst, they will want to have access to sites appropriate for teenagers, it is important to lay down rules of what they are able to go on.

Here is some guidance on issues that you need to have awareness on.

Social Networking

Many children like to use the internet as they can communicate with friends and family. Social networks enable them to talk to others easily and share videos and images. However, you must support your child with the following:

  • Not to share too much information such as their address, phone number and name.
  • Users have to be a certain age to access some social networks, so they need to be honest about their date of birth.
  • Be careful what they share such as images and videos.
  • Remember that connecting with people they don’t know can put them in compromising situations.
  • If anyone asks them to do something they feel uncomfortable with, they must report it to an adult.
  • If someone is abusive or bullying them, it is needs to be reported via the appropriate means.

“Whilst many children might want to use the grown up sites such as ‘Facebook’, it is recommended that they access sites which are more secure and have moderation”

Whilst many children might want to use the grown up sites such as ‘Facebook’, it is recommended that they access sites which are more secure and have moderation (company employees monitoring activity on the site). Here are a list of useful sites: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/safe-chat-rooms-and-social-sites-for-kids

Video Games

Video games have come a long way since the days of Space Invaders and Pacman. The capabilities of consoles such as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One mean that players can immerse themselves in sophisticated games with real life graphics and play with other users around the world. However, unlike the early days of video games, software companies now create games for older users and in the UK we have a classification system showing the age restrictions.

The age ratings are split into the following:

new_pegi

The Video Games and Games Rating Authority describe content in the game ratings as follows:

3: Violence in a childlike cartoon setting.

7: Unrealistic violence towards fantasy characters, sounds & images might be scary for young children.

12: Realistic violence towards fantasy characters, unrealistic violence towards humans or animals, mild swearing.

16: Realistic violence towards humans or animals, sexual nudity, glamorization of crime, alcohol and tobacco.

18: Motiveless killing of human characters, discrimination, gross violence, sexual activity, drugs

It is important that children are not exposed to the violence and sexual content of games such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and ‘Call Of Duty’.

For further information:

http://www.pegi.info/en/index/

http://gamesratingauthority.org/GRA/

Online Bullying

As children develop their social skills, they will make friendships one day and fall out the next day. This can be about trivial matters or more serious behaviour about someone saying nasty things about them. The internet and technology can also be used by children to bully others and it is easy for the perpetrator to hide their identity by creating false profiles. The other aspect of online bullying is that it can happen 24/7 and the victim has no escape.

Signs that your child is being bullied on the internet could include:

  • Not wanting to go to school
  • Refusing to show you their mobile device
  • Being nervous or loss of confidence
  • Damage or lost equipment
  • Problems with eating or sleeping
  • Poor school performance

If your child informs you that they are being bullied online, you can do the following:

  • Use the reporting procedure for the website or app.
  • Activate the ‘block’ settings on your device.
  • Ask your child to speak to Childline (0800 1111)
  • Inform your child’s school of the problem.

Further information:

http://www.childline.org.uk

https://www.kidscape.org.uk/

http://www.antibullyingpro.com/

Inappropriate Content

The internet is vast and it is impossible to remove all offensive material, so this makes it harder for parents and carers to ensure that their children will not see something that may upset them. Charities such as The Internet Watch Foundation (https://www.iwf.org.uk/) work hard to remove child abuse images and Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) now offer family friendly filtering.

However, if your child does access inappropriate content, it is important to talk to them. You may want to discuss the following:

  • Sex/Porn – Highlight the fact that this does not represent a healthy relationship and that many of the people in these videos are coerced and forced to take part.
  • Violence – Unfortunately there is violence and war in the world and the internet can highlight some of the worst brutalities which we should not really witness.
  • Cruelty – Children often get particularly upset about animal cruelty. Again, you need to highlight that this rare and report the video.

In order to try and minimise what your child can access, the Internet Matters (http://www.internetmatters.org/) site offers tips and guides on how to enable safe settings.

12-18 Years

As children move up into secondary school, their online lives develop at a rapid rate as they meet new people and communicate with them via digital technology. Teenagers will also take risks and increasingly some will push the boundaries when using the internet. This may include accessing pornographic websites or sharing inappropriate images or videos. It is really important that you continue to monitor their use and are able to talk to your child even if you don’t feel that you understand the technology they are using.

Here is some guidance on issues that you need to have awareness on.

Social Networking/Apps

As your child enters secondary school, they will look at using social networking sites to communicate with friends. Most young people use them sensibly, but they can be used as a tool to bully others and make contact with people that they don’t know. Many social networking apps on tablets and smartphones also have features where users can share media and this can sometimes lead to inappropriate content being shared by adult predators using the site.

Some simple messages to give to your son or daughter are:

  • Be careful who you ‘friend’ or ‘follow’. Amassing hundreds of people online does not make you popular, it just means that you are connecting with people that you don’t know.
  • Be careful what you share. It might seem like a good idea to share an inappropriate video or image, but you need to think about the implications after it has been sent. It is hard to get the image back and it could stay floating around the net for years.
  • If someone is bullying your son or daughter through social networking, look at the reporting mechanisms, to highlight inappropriate use. Alternatively, get them to phone Childline (0800 1111)
  • Get a balance. Young people need not to react to every ‘post’ or ‘tweet’. We don’t want the next generation to be neurotic and react to every bleep of their phone.

Further information:

http://www.internetmatters.org/advice/14plus/

http://www.vodafone.com/content/parents.html/

Sexting

Sexting is when someone shares a sexually explicit text, image or video using a mobile device. It usually takes the form of a nude image, a picture of someone in their underwear, sexual texts or a pornographic image. Sometimes these can be sent anonymously through social networking sites or uploaded to websites. Recent research shows that many teenagers share ‘sexting’ images between themselves and many do not understand the risks of taking sexual images and making them available to others.

Some simple messages to give to your son or daughter are:

  • Your image could fall into the wrong hands and end up on an adult website. Many predators are targeting young people to share sexual images and harvesting them to use on such sites. In some cases, young people have been blackmailed in order to have the image removed.
  • Whilst the police do not want to criminalise young people, under the Sexual Offences Act (2003) it is illegal to share indecent images of a person under the age of 18.
  • Some young people will take indecent images or videos when they are in a relationship. In some cases, the boyfriend then has threatened to shares these images which is known as ‘revenge porn’. The Criminal Justice and Courts Act (2014) outlaws this behaviour and those breaking the law could face two years imprisonment.

An excellent resource to support you discussing this issue with your teenage son/daughter is here:

Online Pornography

As teenagers explore their sexuality, they try and look at adult sites which contain pornographic images and videos. In many ways this is not new, as previous generations did the same through accessing magazines and videos. The difference is that the vast number of pornographic sites means that young people can look at some extreme content through their mobile device. Usually, many teenagers are embarrassed by parents and carers finding out that they have been looking at particular sites.

Here are some suggestions when discussing the issue with your son or daughter:

  • Highlight the fact that this does not represent a healthy relationship and that many of the people in these videos are coerced and forced to take part. Being intimate with someone takes time and young people should not follow the narratives that are given in online pornography.
  • Whilst broadband filters may stop some pornographic sites, many young people will find ways to access particular content. Parents or carers should not shame their son or daughter in watching this content, but highlight the fact that they should not become obsessive about it.
  • Young men should ensure that watching pornography does not lead them to objectifying women. On many sites (and some video games), women are treated without any respect and this should not be something that young men think is ‘normal’.
  • If you are embarrassed about talking about this subject with your son or daughter, then speak to the PHSE lead at their school. As part of the Sex and Relationships module, schools should cover this issue in class.

For further support, go to: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/parentsguide/

Online Extremism

One of the key principles of the internet is that users have had the ability to upload content which represents their view or opinion. However, this does raise the issue around young people being able to critically evaluate content available on websites and understand what is balanced compared to what might be propaganda. As young people develop their own independent thinking, they can be drawn into a view which they think is attractive. Additionally, members of certain groups will contact young people through social media and support them in self-radicalisation where they become immersed in one particular opinion. The signs are very much like grooming and young people who are impressionable will be easy targets.

Here are some suggestions when discussing the issue with your son or daughter:

  • Extremist behaviour may not just be political or related to an ideology. There are sites and forums which promote eating disorders and self-harm, so you need to ensure that if you see marks or quick changes in weight, they may be accessing these particular sites.
  • There is no one single sign to a young person being radicalised, however the internet will be a key communication tool. If your son or daughter becomes secretive about their internet use or is spending excessive hours (especially late at night), then you may want to intervene.
  • Make them aware that the internet is not always right and that they should look at different websites to evaluate viewpoints. Speak to the English and ICT departments on whether they cover web evaluation and critical thinking as part of their programmes of study.

You can report extremist content on social media site. See http://www.seeitreportit.org/ for more information.

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