Re: Winter 2013/14 - Page 63

Internet safety is your child safe online? As we all know the use of the Internet and of social networks has increased hugely in recent years. The advances in the technology that we have in our homes and literally at our fingers tips has many positive uses: we can entertain ourselves with games and music, communicate with family and friends across the world, share photos and other personal data, buy things at our convenience, catch up on our favourite programmes, research and discover answers to questions; to know instantly about global events. As with many things however, the internet has to be used safely and with respect; when it is used to defraud, abuse or bully the consequences can be devastating. This Christmas many parents and grandparents will be buying the children in their lives the latest technology including mobiles, laptops and tablets. To keep your child safe whilst using their new ‘toys’ you should involve yourself with what they are doing. If they like to play games ask them about the games they are playing, get them to explain why they like the game and discuss strategies that they use to complete the game successfully. Needless to say, follow the age and rating on the games and set the parental controls on the devices that they are using. Discuss with your child why you are doing this and what they should do if they should access anything on the internet that they find upsetting in anyway. If they can play online with their friends again help them to do this, reinforcing the need for them to invite friends that are known to them and discuss appropriate behaviour. You can explain to them the need for caution when posting photos online, they might have set the PC or tablet to share with their “friends” only but their friends may not have. If they then share the photos or videos, you and your child can lose control of who sees them. Did you know that Facebook and many other online communities have an age limit of 13 and over. You may also find it purposeful to reach an agreement on a time limit for the use of the Internet and mobile phones; for example charge their phones overnight so that they can not use them when they should be sleeping. You may also choose to limit your own use of your mobile phone or tablet, as an example – we all know they can be time killers sometimes! There are many resources, including short films and quizzes about safety and how to use the internet responsibly that you can share with your child. These are a few that I have used as a primary school teacher: At primary school, children are taught to be safe on the internet using the acronym “SMART.” It is good advice for us all. SAFE: explain it is not safe to share passwords or personal details, including photos of themselves and their friends on the Internet. Explain that photos and videos on chat lines can be shared and be seen by others. Have a No Strangers rule so that they are only communicating with their friends. Encourage your child to tell you if a stranger is trying to ‘Chat’ with them or meet them - they may not be who they say they are. MEETING: let them know that they should never arrange to meet anyone over the Internet even with one of their peers. Again, encourage your children to tell you if someone wants to meet with them. ACCEPTING: do not accept ‘friend’ invites from strangers or open emails from unknown senders. Discuss the dangers of viruses and hacking. RELIABLE: there is a huge amount of inform