Young people’s safe use of the internet is a national issue.
The four main internet service providers (BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin) have launched Internet Matters, a joint internet safety campaign to help parents keep their children safe online by providing them with simple, easy and practical advice.
Social networking sites are a huge favourite with children, allowing them to keep in touch with friends and family, meet people with similar interests and share photos and videos. But, the site warns, 12-15 year olds may be in contact through their social networking site profile with people they don’t know.
It continues: ‘the more you know about the kind of social networking sites your child belongs to and what information they like to share, the more likely you’ll be able to keep them safe’. It adds some relevant facts:
- The lower age limit for most social networking sites is 13
- You can set privacy settings on most social networking sites so that only close friends can search for your child, tag them in a photograph or share what they’ve posted
- Facebook has a setting that allows your child to approve or dismiss tags that people add to their posts
- Information shared between friends can be easily copied and may spread widely.
Internet Matters’ tips include:
- Agree with your child when they can join a social networking site and create their profile with them
- Help them set privacy settings at the strongest level. Sites can change privacy settings so make sure you stay up to date with them.
- Set boundaries about which sites they can use and for how long. Try to do this when they first start using social networking sites, so they get used to it from a young age.
- Teach your child never to share any personal details – this includes their password, real name, address and school.
- Use the site yourself – ‘you or another trusted adult can become your child’s friend on Facebook or follower on Twitter’.
- Explain that friends should be people they know – people they meet online may not be who they say they are.
- Stress that meeting up with people they know online can be dangerous and that they should only do so with your permission and if you are present
- Set rules about what they should and shouldn’t post
- Talk to your child about the fact that what they post can’t always be taken back, and even if it can, it may already have been shared.
Internet Matters also gives a list of more than a dozen sites giving further information about keeping children safe online.
We hope you have found this information useful.