Posting your personal information online is easily comparable to leaving your home and personal belongings open to strangers. When you post online, think about the people who might see your content. If you post a selfie wearing your school uniform, anybody who sees that picture can quickly know which school you attend from the logo. After a quick google, they have got your schools address and might be waiting outside YOUR school gates for you.
Every time you post something, think about the information your friends, followers, likers, whatever you might call them can gain from it. Do you really want them knowing this about you?
It's about being SMART
Another question to ask yourself is how can such a wonderful invention and resource be so dangerous and harmful to children? Educate your children to access the internet in a SMART way.
S – Safe
Keep safe by being careful not to give out personal information when you're chatting or posting online. Personal information includes your email address, phone number and password.
M – Meeting
Meeting someone you have only been in touch with online can be dangerous. Only do so with your parents or carers permission and even then only when they can be present. Remember online friends are still strangers even if you have been talking to them for a long time.
A – Accepting
Accepting emails, IM messages, or opening files, pictures or texts from people you don't know or trust can lead to problems they may contain viruses or nasty messages!
R – Reliable
Someone online might lie about who they are and information on the internet may not be true. Always check information with other websites, books or someone who knows. If you like chatting online it's best to only chat to your real world friends and family.
T – Tell
Tell your parent, carer or a trusted adult if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried, or if you or someone you know is being bullied online.
There are lots of ways in which your child can report something online including CEOP where they can make a report but we would recommend your child telling you, as their parent or carer first.
Age restrictions are there for a reason
We were shocked to learn that one in five 8 to 11 year olds and seven in ten 12 to 15 year olds have a social media profile (Ofcom, 2015). Different platforms have different age restrictions for example Facebook and Instagram are only suitable for teenagers over 13. Think to yourself why this might be. To limit the amount of users or to keep children safe and away from the online world?
Recently, it came to our attention that children using the popular app ‘Musical.ly’ had been groomed (Daily Mirror, 2016). The app has an age restriction of 12. Age restrictions are there for a reason. Even at 12 years old, is your child mature enough to know when they are being asked for inappropriate content? Having a chat with your son or daughter and looking through their apps together will hopefully reassure you that they are all age appropriate.
Surf the internet safely
Every day more and more online content is contributed to the internet. Did you know that there are child friendly search engines out there? KidRex, for example will only allow your children to search safely online and provide them with child specific results. If your child is using your device, make sure you are watching over them. A simple typo or the wrong click could land them on inappropriate and offensive content.
There are some things we never want our children’s innocent eyes to see! Fortunately, there are also lots of apps out there including Screen Limit and Our Pact which you can use to put parent controls on your devices.
Sadly, the world is a scary place at times and the online world is scarier. Educate your children ensuring they know:
- What they should be posting online
- What to do if they receive something inappropriate
- Why certain apps or social media platforms are not appropriate for their age group
- How to search online safely
A balance is so important in life and stopping access to the internet would not be the answer. Education, knowledge and balance is the answer. Know what your kids are doing and be involved.
If you have any other tips, advice or recommendations to keep children safer online, please contact us and we can share it with our campers and their families!
Here’s to a safer online world…