JUST ONE THING – WE ASK THE EXPERTS ABOUT KIDS’ SAFETY ONLINE

This piece originally featured in issue 6 of Digital Parenting magazine.

 

If you could give parents one piece of advice to keep children safe online, what would it be? Megan Rose asked the experts.

 

Marie Smith 

Head of Education, CEOP, the child protection branch of the National Crime Agency www.thinkuknow.co.uk

 

“Explore with your child how they can report to their favourite site app. It can be reassuring for both of you, and it’s an opportunity to reiterate to your child that they can come to you if something online has made them feel worried or upset.”

 

John Cameron OBE 

Head of helplines, Childline, the free and confidential advice service for children www.childline.org.uk Telephone: 0800 1111; Parent helpline: 0808 800 5000

 

“Talk to your child about the risks of sexting and how to keep safe. If sexting goes wrong and a sexual image is shared, it can be devastating for the child and support from parents is crucial. Childline provides confidential advice for children on the phone and online 24/7 and can even help get a sexual image removed from the internet.”

 

Vicki Shotbolt

 CEO, Parent Zone, the UK’s leading parenting organisation specialising in the digital world www.parentzone.org.uk

 

“Don’t let devices get in the way of your parenting or let the tech make you feel you’re not in control. The parenting techniques you use to get them to do their homework or eat their veg work for digital rules as well.”

 

Jamie Bartlett

 Author, The Dark Web, and director of The Centre for the Analysis of Social Media for the UK cross-party think-tank, Demos

 

“Parents need to know the modern troubles today’s kids face. Get out there and explore the sites and apps your kids use. If you know nothing of Snapchat or 4chan, you won’t be as ready or capable to help.”

 

Eleanor Levy

Editor, Parent Info, a free news and advice service for parents that schools can run on their own website www.parentinfo.org. Catfish is rated 12.

 

“Encourage your child to watch the show Catfish. Each episode, the presenters check the identity of someone a young person has befriended, often romantically, on social media. It’s the best thing I’ve seen for explaining to kids in their own language that people they meet online may not be who they say they are.”

 

Carolyn Bunting

CEO, Internet Matters, an independent, not-for profit e-safety organisation www.internetmatters.org

 

“There are no set guidelines for how much screen time is appropriate for children, but there needs to be a balance. Don’t be afraid to have rules, like ‘no tablets at the dinner table’. For younger children, use tech to help; the Forest app lets you grow a beautiful forest the longer you leave your device alone. And lead by example – make time to be a gadget-free family.”

 

Will Gardner 

CEO, Childnet International, and a Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre www.childnet.com

 

“Be curious and ask your children to talk about, or better still show you the services they use and love. Starting the conversation is key, both to help ensure that children know how to stay safe and respect others online, but also so they turn to you if someone or something online is making them feel uncomfortable.”

 


This article was originally written in partnership with Parent Zone.