Child Safety Online:
Social networking is hugely popular. Many young people are sophisticated in the way they use social apps and websites, tailoring their communication for different audiences, and accessing them from a range of devices including smartphones, tablets and games consoles.
Social media, like all forms of public communication, comes with some risks. Not all of these risks turn into actual problems; and if children never face any risks, they never learn how to deal with them. By helping your child understand what the risks are, you can play a big part in preventing them from turning into problems.
Practical tips to help minimise the risks your child might face:
It’s good practice for apps and websites to have safety advice and well designed safety features which can make a real difference to how safe your child will be when using them.
Work through safety and privacy features on the apps tat your child is using, or might use. Make sure they understand the point of these and how to use them. Don’t be put off by believing your child knows more than you: the tools are actually quite easy to manage.
- Ask them to show you which social media apps they use and what they like about them. Talk about how they use them and what makes them so engaging.
- Explain how you can use privacy settings to make sure only approved friends can see posts & images.
- Check if any of their apps have ‘geo-location’ enabled, sharing their location unintentionally.
- Show them how to report offensive comments or block people who upset them.
- Check ‘tagging’ settings so that when others are posting or sharing photos online, your child’s identity is not revealed. Also, get people’s consent before sharing photos.
- Encourage your child to come and talk to you if they see anything that upsets them.
Keep talking and stay involved
In a mobile age, children can’t be completely protected, even by the best privacy controls; another child may use different settings. So it’s important to keep talking to your child about the implications of social media. Getting a sense of what they think is a useful place to start; you may be surprised by how much thought they may have given to the issues.
Encourage your child to think carefully about the way they, and others behave online, and how they might deal with difficult situations.
- People may not always be who they say they are online: how can create problems?
- Why is it unwise to meet anyone in the real world that you’ve only met online?
- Even if you think your messages are private, remember that words and images can always be captured and broadcast.
- People present themselves differently online – do they really look like that? Are they always having that good a time?
- Be aware that screens, and especially being anonymous, can lead people to say things they wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
- What does being a good friend and a likeable person online look like?
- There can be pressure to be part of a particular group online or to be seen to be following a certain set of ideas. How can you take a step back and make your own decisions?
For more information
You can find out more about how children use social media, the apps they use, the risks they face, how to use privacy settings, and advice and tips about how to talk to your children at: