With more social networking opportunities appearing online through gaming and other networks it has never been more important to stay safe online and know the risks.
Social networking sites allow children and adults to create an online persona and interact with friends and other members of the public.
Whilst most social networking sites allow you to protect your profile to just your chosen friends, many people decide to share their profile with anyone and everyone. These very popular sites offer a fantastic opportunity to interact with others in the electronic age but, sadly, a few individuals also use these sites for bullying and intimidation.
For well-known social networking sites and apps such as Facebook and Snapchat, users are legally required to be age 13 or over, with the age for WhatsApp being 16. This is to protect children who have a less mature understanding of the implications of what is being 'posted' online, and to safeguard them from inappropriate content. If you allow your child to access these sites while they are still at primary school, they could be at risk of online bullying, viewing unsuitable photos or videos or, at the most extreme, online grooming.
Nothing is more important than knowing what your child is doing online and how they use chat, instant messaging, blogs, forums & gaming sites.
A great idea is to get them to show you how it all works and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask but don’t panic if you’re not quite sure, take a note of what programs and sites they use and do a bit of investigation later on.
Try setting up some rules which you are all agreed on, make sure that your child is happy with how to protect themselves when online and what they should do if they feel at risk. A good idea for primary aged children is to ensure that you have access to their devices and passwords so you can monitor what they are doing, saying and seeing online. Some families choose to set 'parental controls' on devices to block access to certain sites and games, or you can install filtering software. In school we have extensive filtering solutions. Home solutions are generally not as advanced but that doesn’t mean they won’t work!
f your child has come across bullying on a site then you should report it to the site itself. Most sites have a 'help' or 'report' button, or you can look at the help pages on the site concerned.
If it’s a bit more serious than that, you can report it to CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) or the police if someone is in immediate danger.
More information and advice can be found under 'useful links' in this section.