As the summer holidays approach, parents across the United Kingdom are being urged to be aware of online exploitation and keep their children safe.
During the summer break from school, children and young people typically have more time to spend online, whether that be on social media sites, messaging platforms, online gaming, or watching videos.
But whilst it can seem like fun and games, the online world can be abused by those who want to exploit or cause harm to a child or young person.
Coun Margaret Isherwood, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said:
“Online safety is important, and we all have a part to play in protecting our district’s children and young people.
"It starts with educating on the risks and warning signs to look out for, having open conversations with children and young people, and acting on concerns.
“It can affect any child or young person and you don’t need to be certain, but by raising a concern you could helping to keep a child safe.”
The focus comes as part of the latest phase of the council’s award winning ‘safeguarding is everyone’s business’ campaign and the first summer without any restrictions since the start of the pandemic.
For this reason, parents are being warned of the increased risks to children and young people and encouraging them to see safeguarding as part of their community responsibility this summer.
Coun Isherwood added:
“Safeguarding is not just the responsibility of parents or carers, schools or other professionals. It starts with all of us taking action to protect our district’s children and young people from harm.
"If you are worried about a child or young person, please speak to someone. The sooner you act, the sooner we can help.”
The council’s campaign is focused on four key areas of online safety – social media, gaming, online sexual abuse and extreme content.
As part of the campaign, parents are being encouraged to talk to their children about online safety and the risks of sharing personal information or images online.
They are also being urged to be aware of the signs that their child may be a victim of online exploitation, which can include changes in mood or behaviour, withdrawing from friends or activities, secrecy around their internet use, or unexplained gifts or money.
Anyone who is worried about a child or young person can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or visit their website for more information and support. If you think a child is in immediate danger, please call 999.
The NSPCC has also launched a new campaign, #WildWestWeb, which is calling on the government to introduce stronger regulation of social media companies to keep children safe online. For more information and to support the campaign, visit: nspcc.org.uk/wildwestweb.
Talk To Your Child About Staying Safe Online
Talking regularly with your child is the greatest tool to help keep them safe online. Talking regularly and making it part of daily conversation, like you would about their day at school, will help your child feel relaxed. It also means when they do have any worries, they’re more likely to come and speak to you.
But it can also be easy to become overwhelmed with the different technology, the language that children use, the huge number of games and apps which are available and the potential risks.
Tips for your conversation
- Reassure them - Try not to treat it like an interview - Ask who they're talking to - Remind them about strangers
Parental Controls: Deciding what’s appropriate for children to see online
The online world gives us access to a huge amount of information and services, but the scale of information available also means that there is content that is inappropriate for children. What is or isn’t appropriate is up to individual parents and carers to decide, and could be based on things like age, ability, beliefs and family values.
What are parental controls?
Parental controls allow you to block and filter upsetting or inappropriate content. They work across your WiFi, phone network, individual apps and devices. Parental controls can help you to:
Plan what time of day your child can go online and how long for
Create content filters to block apps that may have inappropriate content
Manage the content different family members can see.
For more advice and guidance on how to set up parental controls, visit the NSPCC's helpful resources here.