What are the issues that children face online?

Some of the issues that children face online are cyberbullying and being exposed to inappropriate content. Whether you are unsure or familiar with what happens online it is important you discuss staying safe with your child.

According to the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) children may go online to;

– search for information or content on search engines like Google and Bing
– share images and watch videos through websites or mobile apps like Instagram, Pinterest, Vine and YouTube
– use social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter
– write or reply to messages on forums and message boards
– play games alone or with others through websites, apps or game consoles
– chat with other people through online games, BBM (Blackberry Messenger), games consoles, webcams, social networks and tools like Whatsapp and SnapChat

One of the risks children face during these activities is cyberbullying. Children often feel there is no escape from cyberbullying, which can be very damaging to a child’s health. To lower the risk of cyberbullying agree a list of websites your child is allowed to visit and the kind of personal information they shouldn’t reveal about themselves online, such as the name of their school or their home address.

Children may see illegal or inappropriate content online, such as: pornography, child abuse images, dangerous advice encouraging eating disorders, self harm or suicide, excessive violence or race hate materials. Children may access inappropriate content accidentally, or intentionally through curiosity. Exposure to this content can have distressing and damaging effects on children. Blocks can be put in place to restrict children from accessing such content.

With both of these issues it is important you talk to your child to make them aware of the risks and help them to stay safe online.

How can children be protected online?

Some websites and games use age restrictions and checks to ensure that children don’t see unsuitable content. The age limit is an important safety measure and you shouldn’t feel pressurised into letting younger children join. You can also buy or download parental controls to prevent access unless they are an appropriate age.

Many apps and social networking sites use software to locate where the user is. Children can also reveal their location by tagging photos, e.g. in Instagram, checking in on Facebook or Foursquare. Make sure these are switched off.

Explain to your child that being online doesn’t give them anonymity or protection, and that they shouldn’t do anything online that they wouldn’t do face-to-face.

Share your technology rules with grandparents, babysitters and your child’s friends’ parents so that they know what to do when looking after your child. Discuss with your older children what they should or shouldn’t be showing their younger siblings on the internet, mobile devices, games consoles and other devices.

Article sources: NSPCC and Get Safe Online

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