T - Talking about online safety going forward
Talking about online safety going forward
You’ve learned about the importance of regularly talking about your phone and online habits together as a family. Conversations should be ongoing, but this doesn’t mean they always need to be scheduled - find moments that fit with your family to check in.
Advice on using your phone safely
Each of the topics below show someone’s advice for how to use a phone safely. Based on everything that you have learned through the toolkit, decide if each one is a helpful piece of advice or not - the NSPCC have provided answers to help you in your discussions.
Naz tells her friend that he should share his new phone number online so that he doesn’t have to go around telling everyone what it is.
Noel says that it’s a good idea to take a break from a game for a bit if you are tempted to spend more and more money on it to reach the next level.
Kaya read a post online that said if someone is being picked on in a group chat, you should always challenge the people doing it there and then.
The most important thing for your child to take away from these activities is the knowledge that you're always open to talking to them about their phone use and any concerns they might have. In this activity, make sure you give your child a chance to share their thoughts first and discuss why they think this before sharing your opinion. A really important part of this is helping them to reframe any of the unhelpful advice to make it more helpful. This helps your child to consider different ways of approaching a situation and shows them that there is usually more than one option.
This could be unhelpful advice. Rather than telling the specific people that you want to have your new number, sharing it online potentially means people you didn’t expect could end up with it. Instead, decide together who will have your phone number and give this to them in person if possible. It may be a good idea to share your new number with a small group of family members and one or two very close friends and see how this goes before sharing it with a wider friendship group.
This is helpful advice. Games can be great fun, but they are designed to keep you playing. Different features like loot boxes, daily challenges and time-limited discounts can make it difficult to stop. It can be easy to spend money in games, whether real or in-game currency, to try and speed up progress or create a better character. If you are tempted to spend money you know you shouldn’t, it’s a very good time to take a break.
Parents, encourage your children to come and talk to you in this situation and explain why they want to spend this money so that you can help them to identify if it is a good idea.
This could be unhelpful advice. There are lots of ways you could respond to this situation. One of these is to challenge the people making comments but that’s not always going to be the best approach. This could work if, for example if you know the people making the comments very well and feel confident to say something. But you might be worried about their reaction. The best thing to do is speak to a safe adult about what you have seen and, if possible, show the messages to them. This way the adult can take responsibility for making sure the person being picked on gets help. Reporting the comments on the app or site can also be a good approach. This can often be done anonymously so can be easier than saying something directly.
This is not helpful advice. There may be times when it is ok to have a location setting switched on, for example if you are walking back from school on your own for the first time, you might share your location with your parent. But having it switched on all the time and set to public risks other people being able to see where you are. Talk as a family about why it is not safe to share your location publicly with other people and agree together who it is ok to share your location with. Some apps have location settings set to public as default so make sure you check these and switch to private where necessary.
This is not helpful advice. While this might seem like a good idea, it could cause more harm than good. Firstly, it might give a false sense of security. Getting a picture of someone, even if it seems to confirm who they are, does not necessarily mean they are a safe person. Another reason is that asking for a picture might make this person feel uncomfortable. Remember everyone has the right to safety online and the right not to have someone ask for a picture of them. If you're speaking to some online that you do not know well offline, you shouldn’t share personal information and should check in with a safe adult.
Watch how this family talk about dealing with unwanted contact
Having a phone opens the possibility having unwanted people contacting you online. This is worrying, but there are steps you can take together to make sure you’re safe:
•Only accept requests from people you know - like family and school friends. If you get requests from someone you think you might know, discuss it together first.
•Get your parent to help you check their profile - make sure it is someone you know. Parents, you might want to use parental controls to help your child manage new requests.
•Ask a safe adult for help - if you ever get a message online that worries you or makes you feel uncomfortable. Not all inappropriate contact starts out like that, but if someone says something unkind, asks you to keep secrets or do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, then talk to your parents or another safe adult.
Frequently asked questions
Vodafone and NSPCC have published lots of helpful content to support parents and carers in having online safety conversations with children. Every situation is different – check out Vodafone’s Digital Parenting Pro resource for more information.
The internet can be a tricky place to navigate – for adults as well as children and teenagers. While it can be useful for staying in touch with friends and family, for learning, and for entertainment, it can be overwhelming too. There can be a pressure to always be in contact or keep up with friends. There is also a risk of seeing harmful content, or receiving unwanted contact. The NPSCC toolkit of activities can help you and your teenager to navigate these risks and show you both how to get support if you have concerns.
Check out the NSPCC’s advice on online wellbeing for more information.