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The best way to help your child stay safe when using new technologies is to talk to them and make sure they understand these simple rules:
- Never give out personal details to “online friends”. Use a nickname when logging on and don’t share full name, email address, mobile number, school name or any photos.
- Talk to your child about what they are doing online.
- Keep the computer in a family room so you can share your child’s online experience.
- Surf together. The key to safe surfing is communication.
- Involve your child in writing your own family code of acceptable internet use. This may be different for teenagers and primary school children.
- Use internet filtering software and child friendly search engines.
- If your child receives a message that upsets them, remind them not to reply, they should save the message and show you or another trusted adult.
- Spam and junk mails are not true do not send them on.
- Don’t open files from people you don’t know. These can contain a virus.
- An online friend is anyone you have not met in real life, no matter how long you have known them.
- Help your child to understand that some people lie online and that its better to keep online mates online. They should never meet without an adult they trust.
- Make sure they know how to block and report someone online if they feel uncomfortable.
- Ensure that you, as a parent or carer, understand the dangers inherent in children’s use of social media. Don’t permit them to use sites which have age restrictions (for example Facebook users should be at least 13 years old); beware of the hazards of unrestricted access to YouTube. Controlling your children’s internet access is good parenting – ‘don’t be embarrassed and keep yourself informed!’
Make sure your child knows how to talk to you, let them know it is never too late to tell someone if something makes them feel uncomfortable. Don’t blame your child let them know that you trust them.
There are many informative websites for using the internet safely. Here are just a few which are well known and recommended: