Advice on safety issues from our partners

Below are some issues that we know can often be concerning to parents. We work closely with a number of child safety organisations in the UK and we’ve included advice from these partners in the sections below. There are also links to where to go for more information, how to get help and where to report abuse.

Protecting your child from sexually explicit, violent material and other inappropriate content

There are some great things you can see on the internet, but sometimes people with bad intentions can post pictures and things to read which might upset you. This might be racist, violent or pornographic or may include abusive images. You shouldn’t have to put up with this. If your child should come across any content that is inappropriate, worries them or makes them upset then they should be encouraged to come to you or a trusted adult and ‘flag’ the issue. If your child does experience inappropriate content online they should also report it, or ‘flag-it’ to the website it appears on. UKCCIS has developed an Internet safety ‘one stop shop’ with more information.

Some options to help prevent your child’s exposure to harmful content might include:

  • The internet-connected computer must be in a family room with the screen facing outward so you can see what’s going on
  • If your child accidentally goes to an unsuitable website they should tell you – you can delete it from the ‘history’ folder and add the address to the parental control filter list
  • It’s never OK to use abusive or threatening language in any online communication
  • Your child should take breaks from the computer every 30 minutes for health and safety reasons
  • Your child shouldn’t download unknown files from the internet without you agreeing – it’s best to never download unknown files at all

Reducing the risk of your child meeting strangers online

It can be hard for parents and carers to supervise what young people are doing online, including who they are talking with, but it is important to remember that not everyone or everything online is reliable or trustworthy. Although chatting to people online is popular, there are potential risks in communicating with people you don’t know, and unfortunately some children have been hurt when they have met up with friends they have met online. Childnet’s www.chatdanger.com website shares information on how to stay safe when chatting online. If you are concerned that a child or young person is being inappropriately contacted online by an adult you can report it to CEOP.

Stopping them sharing too much personal information

Sharing personal information online is very easy to do, and one of the attractions about social networking sites and sites promoting user generated content is that they give users a powerful voice to express their identity and opinions. However, it’s really important for all users to be mindful of what information they share in whatever they are doing online, whether using a chat facility or through their status updates and pictures for example. Personal information is not just limited to your email address, phone number and password, although this is all vital information to keep private, but also includes consideration of videos and photos posted online. By using the privacy settings that reputable sites offer, you can limit who can access your personal content. Childnet’s SMART rules offer an easy way for children to remember how to stay safe on the Internet.

How to help stop cyberbullying

If you’re concerned that your child is being bullied online, talk to them. It might be a difficult subject to broach but being open, honest and approachable will make it easier for them to discuss their feelings. Don’t get mad, but tell them you will do all you can to help them – don’t act alone or behind your child’s back, try to do the following with them.

If you discover your child is being bullied, the first thing to do is report it. You and/or your child should use the reporting mechanisms where possible on sites to flag the bullying content, so that it can be removed. Don’t respond or retaliate, but you can block users, and make sure you save any bullying messages, posts, pictures or videos you receive or see as evidence when you report them.

Ensure your child knows where they can go to get help and support if they are being bullied. Children, who often find it easier to talk about their problems to other youngsters, can get online support.

Understand what your child is doing online – but talk to them, don’t spy on them. Make sure they understand how to stay safe. Here are some tips for children:

What else to do if you are being cyberbullied or harassed online:

  • Report any cyberbullying, whether it’s targeted at you or not, and flag it up to the YouTube team. Block those users too.
  • Never respond or retaliate, as this can just make things worse. It might be difficult, but try to ignore the bullies.
  • Save and print out any bullying messages, posts, pictures or videos you receive or see.
  • Make a note of dates and times of bullying messages, along with any details you have about the sender’s ID.
  • Don’t pass on cyberbullying videos or messages – that makes you as bad as the cyberbully.
  • If you’re being bullied repeatedly, think about changing your user ID, nickname or profile.
  • Finally… if you think that someone else is being cyberbullied, don’t ignore it. If you see cyberbullying going on, report it and offer your support – tell them about CyberMentors.

Stay safe online using these tips for preventing cyberbullying:

  • Don’t post personal information online.
  • Don’t let anyone know your passwords.
  • Think carefully about what you say before you write or post anything online.
  • Respect other people’s views – just because you don’t agree with them, it doesn’t mean that you have to be rude or abusive.
  • Google yourself every now and again. It will show you what is online about you and what others can see – and you can make changes if you don’t like what you see!

Concerned mums, dads and guardians should check out Beatbullying’s website for more advice on how to deal with bullying.

Malware: What is it and how to make sure your children don’t install it

Viruses online are like viruses offline – not nice to catch and can cause big problems. Unfortunately viruses online are shared in much the same way as in the real world – the more people you contact and share things with, the greater the chance of catching something and passing it on. In the same way as we cant see the viruses that give us colds or other illnesses the same is usually the case with viruses that spread online. They often come in emails or pop-ups and they are likely to be passed on to your contacts and friends without you even realising it. Some affect the way your computer works while others are there to affect not only your time online but also those of your friends as you pass it on.

You can find more information on the UKCCIS one-stop shop.