10 essential tips for child safety online

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With the protection of an individual’s data at SocialSafe’s very core, the following simple and practical advice is designed for parents and carers to consider in their ultimate aim to ensure that their child is kept safe online.

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  • 1. 10 Essential Tips forChild Safety OnlineBrought to you byyour library of youMonday, 11 February 2013

2. Times have changed. Our children are being brought up in a world ofcompetitive peer-pressure as well as a relentless exposure to brands thatmesmerise with promises of popularity, beauty and shopping.Overlaid onto this status quo is a hyper-inated degree of social connectivity viadigital devices meaning a friendship is always on. No longer is the family phoneshared in the hall and the television watched together in the living room, insteadour childrens bedrooms - once a private haven of books, toys and dreams - isnow a noisy, public playground devoid of privacy, imagination and parentalboundaries. Although their bedrooms are in our homes, parents and carersstruggle to exert any inuence let alone understand the new language ofLOL (Laughing Out Loud), !!!! (Talk to the hand) and CD9 (Parents around).Built into our DNA as parents and carers is a desire to protect our children fromexternal inuences and arm them suciently in order to tackle theopportunities, trials and realities that are harboured within the grown-up worldthat is waiting for them. It is our responsibility to teach our children to be able torecognise the important dierence between the kindness of a well-meaningstranger and the predatory behaviour of someone grooming them for future ills,both in real-life as well as within the shadowy world of the web.10 EssentialTips forChild SafetyOnlineHow can we keep our children safe fromcyber-stalkers and online bullying?,,Monday, 11 February 2013 3. What should we do in the face of Facebook?,,The Web, social networks and the plethora of connected devices that our childreninteract with and have access to, sometimes as young as nursery age, arechallenging these established truisms, rules around their privacy and a previoushierarchy of care. No longer is a private conversation, message or email to a friendnecessarily private - and because the rules have changed, it is our duty as carers todo whatever we can to help them.So what should we do in the face of Facebook? How can we keep our children safefrom cyber-stalkers and online bullying? How do we regain control and re-establisha trusted inuence in our childrens digital lives?Clearly the modern equivalent of reading their diaries packed full of their privatehopes and dreams never intended for our eyes, is not an appropriate route forward.Nor is the tapping of their mobiles to listen into the shared condences of friendsgoing to build mutually trusting parent / child relationships. Similarly pretendingthat this is not happening and taking a hear / see / speak no evil approach wouldrepresent a massive dereliction of duty on our part as carers.Many of us feel out-of-control from the very start of the conversation about socialnetworking. Our childrens knowledge and online skills from a very young age farout-pace ours. Parents havent the time or the inclination to go onto Facebook, andforget Twitter, or was it Bebo, MySpace or Friends Reunited...? From this observerpoint of view, it truly is a dierent and very frightening online world. And providingadvice to our children from this uninformed perspective is nigh-on-impossible.10 EssentialTips forChild SafetyOnlineMonday, 11 February 2013 4. With the protection of an individuals data at SocialSafes very core, the followingsimple and practical advice is designed for parents and carers to consider in theirultimate aim to ensure that their child is kept safe online.10 Essential Tips forChild Safety OnlineMonday, 11 February 2013 5. 1OpendialogueMonday, 11 February 2013 6. 1OpendialogueIf your child has unsupervised access to devices, you cannot realistically stopthem from joining social networks such as Facebook, therefore werecommend that you talk to them about their activities online. Having an opendialogue that is based on trust rather than confrontation will be key tounderstanding what they are doing online.No longer will a password on the family PC stop your child from going online.Now, access can be via internet-enabled gaming devices, mobile phones, radiosor televisions. Nor will the rules and small-print of social networks around theminimum age, stop your child from registering accounts even if technically theyare indeed under-age.Like it or not, their friends, idols, brands, TV programmes, sometimes evenschools, are all on social networks and the media drives home the Like us.Follow us. message, 24/7. Therefore it is time for us as parents and carers to facethe fact that social networking will play a part in our childrens lives. And it is ourduty of care to ensure that their interactions are safe, informed and based onopen conversations with us.Talking to your child about their online activities will be key to a conflict-free,trusting and measured approach which will allow them, and you, to stay safe andin control of their online presence.Monday, 11 February 2013 7. 2OnlinefriendshipsMonday, 11 February 2013 8. Talk to them about what true friendship means - the conversations,confidences, behaviours and importance of having an in-real-life friendshipprior to any online connections. And make it very clear that they should neverever meet an online connection in real life for the first time without adultsupervision.Anxiety about friendship - being popular, not popular enough, wearing the rightclothes, saying the right thing, hanging out with the right people - really comes tothe fore during your childs teenage years. Social networks can heighten theseconcerns, particularly when it comes to the number of online friends theyve got(there is a perception that the most friends they have on a network, the morepopular and worthy they become).It is vital that you have an open conversation with your child about whatfriendship really means. Try to remind them that true friendship is not aboutnumber chasing the number of friends they have on each network, instead it isabout having meaningful, trusting relationships where confidences are kept,which are based on real life events that they experience in person.It is vital that you emphasise that friendship starts at school, in after-school clubs,during Summer camp, not from online connections and virtual conversationswith people they have never met before. Their in real life friendships are those toconnect with on Facebook, not friends of friends online nor with people whoseem or look nice. It is extremely important that they understand that they shouldnever arrange to meet someone they have met online in real life - and certainlywithout your supervision. presence.2OnlinefriendshipsMonday, 11 February 2013 9. 3OnlineprivacyMonday, 11 February 2013 10. Talk to your child about privacy - what it means, how to behave online andhow much to reveal about themselves during their online conversations. Inaddition, we would recommend that the privacy settings on any social mediaaccount that they have should be set to Private, particularly in the earlystages of using the account. If appropriate, these settings can be relaxed overtime as your child gets more confident in how best to use the account.The gossip culture of celebrity magazines and newspapers, fueled by onlinerumours that can to go viral in hours, is undermining our fundamental right toprivacy. In addition, there is an unwritten contract (sometimes backed up byunreadable and extensive Ts&Cs) that we automatically subscribe to by usingonline companies such as Facebook and Google: that we are using their servicefor free and in return they can make money by using and mining our data.So remind your child why it is important to protect both their own privacy as wellas respect the privacy of their friends. Arm them with useful advice such asremembering to ask for their friends permission before uploading their photos toFacebook and tagging them for others to see. Not everyone is comfortable withthis and once photos are online, it is very hard to delete or undo these actions.3OnlineprivacyMonday, 11 February 2013 11. 4Setting upaccountsMonday, 11 February 2013 12. Offer to help your child set-up their account. By being involved from the start -from helping to select an appropriate profile photograph to selecting the rightprivacy settings - you are establishing a relationship with your child that isbased on trust and open dialogue. Some networks such as Facebook enablea level of privacy to be set, however, do be aware that this is often not thedefault settings when you first set up a profile. Also, suggest that you are oneof their connections and that their posts are visible to you. And yes, thatmeans that you will have to have an account too.Setting up a social media account can be done in a matter of minutes. The majorsocial networks have deliberately made it extremely easy to get online veryeasily. However, time should be taken at this stage in order to make sure that theaccount has been set-up responsibly, privately and with consideration. Forexample, some social networks such as Facebook do allow the account user tochange the privacy settings to suit their own preferences.In addition, it is important that your child doesnt reveal too much aboutthemselves - for example, they must understand why it is important not to revealtheir address, phone-number, daily / weekly timetable, nor naively select aninappropriate photograph for their profile picture.By being involved in the set-up process from the start, you will be able totogether talk the whole process through, provide them with useful hints, as wellas ensure that their accounts have been set-up safely and securely.If you are unsure of how best to go about changing the privacy settings of anonline account, ask a friend to help you. Guidance can usually be found in theHelp Sections of the social networks themselves, for example Facebook andTwitter have comprehensive information resources.4Setting upaccountsMonday, 11 February 2013 1