Keeping our Children safer online

Five steps to help protect your child online

1. Keep it private
Ensure your child keeps their profile and online friends private. Most social networking sites and other technologies (such as chat rooms) have both private and open/public settings. They should also avoid divulging personal information, including identifying photographs, to anyone they don't already know.
Ensure they understand that once posted/uploaded, content is non-retractable and will be part of their permanent record online. Someone, somewhere will always find it.

2. Keep it friendly
Cyber-bullying is poised to turn into the biggest online concern, already affecting up to 35% of all children*. Ensure your child knows what to do when they encounter cyber-bullying (Stop, Block and Tell!), and who to report it to - make sure you are on their list!
'Think before you send' is a great online rule for your child to live by. Ask them to think about the potential consequences to themselves and others of every video uploaded, every comment, every text, every email.

3. Keep it online
Ensure your child only ever meets online friends for the first time in the company of yourself or a trusted adult. Ensure your child never, ever organises to meet an online friend face-to-face for the first time on their own - no exceptions.

4. Keep it locked
Make sure your child's mobile phone uses a PIN, so when lost or stolen it can't be used to auto-sign into their online profiles (auto-sign-on is where a website auto-remembers a password). If in doubt, ask to set their Bluetooth-enabled phone to 'undiscoverable' - otherwise strangers can potentially access your children's phone and its data.

5. Keep it real
Children find the internet an easier place to explore their identity, to challenge adult norms and boundaries, experiment with relationships and practice a range of behaviours. But many of the consequences of these things are amplified online.
Reinforce strong and positive personal and societal values and behaviours online. Help build resilience in your child to what they will undoubtedly come across on the internet: inappropriate content and cyber-bullying. Make sure they know how to handle themselves online.

Copyright (c) Martyn Wild - Available to use as is with permission from the author.

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