Staying Safe Online

Suffolk Police are urging parents and carers to talk to their children about staying safe online while the current lockdown to combat the COVID pandemic continues.

Safer Internet Day, was on Tuesday 9 February, was co-ordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre, and aims to highlight positive uses of technology and the role everyone plays in helping to create a better and safer online community for children and young people. It is also an opportunity for adults to check that their own online activity is safe and secure.

While we are all self-isolating and socially distancing due to coronavirus, social media platforms, like Twitter, Snapchat and video calls, are a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, share your thoughts and ideas and connect with like-minded people. Unfortunately, whilst rare, there are negative influencers and online groomers who use the internet, social media and online gaming to spread their extreme or inappropriate ideas, which children can be exposed to.

During this difficult time, we will all become more reliant communicating online, so read through this advice for parents, guardians and carers to make sure you and your family stay safe online.

SNT Digital Support Supervisor Hayley Batterham said: “We are asking parents and carers across Suffolk to sit down with their children and talk frankly about their online activity as the lockdown continues.

“The online world is a necessity for many children in accessing schoolwork and it delivers huge benefits, not least in enabling us to stay connected to family and friends during this period. However, many parents may feel concerned about the content their children are accessing. Although rare, there is a risk that increased online activity and feelings of stress and isolation may be exploited by negative influences and online groomers of all kinds to target vulnerable children and young people directly.”

Some helpful tips:

  • Get to know and become familiar with the social networks your children use, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, YouTube, Tumblr. Internet Matters and Think You Know websites are good sources of information for keeping up with the latest social media networks and advice.
  • Check privacy settings on your child’s social network. Make sure these are set so that only family/close friends can see their profiles, especially their photographs and location. Stress the need for password protection and the necessity of not sharing with friends or others.
  • Teach them about cyberbullying. Encourage them to use appropriate language online, if they wouldn’t say it in person, don’t text or post it online. Get them to report cyberbullying and talk to a trusted adult if they or someone they know is being cyberbullied.
  • Think before you post or engage in sexting. Ensure your child is aware that whatever they put online can be shared with the entire world forever!
  • Set a positive example. Lead by example of how to behave online, do not post inappropriately yourself, protect your social media profiles and limit your usage to a reasonable time.

The UK Safer Internet Centre have published several short films to help adults talk to children about their online lives:

Families are also being encouraged to sign up to their own Internet Safety Plan. This gives them the chance to talk about online behaviours, such as what they should or shouldn’t do on the internet, agree how long devices can be used every day and what to do if something has caused upset.

For more information and advice:

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