Protecting your children from online predators and grooming is now a crucial part of modern parenting
Do you know who is talking to your child online?
With 90% of children under 10 going online, and 86% of children aged between seven and 11 using some form of online communication, the risk is there from an early age.
The more you know about the kind of social networking sites your child belongs to and what information they like to share, the more likely you’ll be able to keep them safe.
“It is easy to understand why online grooming and stranger danger is one of parents’ biggest concerns when it comes to their children’s internet safety. Keeping on top of what they are sharing with their friends or strangers, and who are they arranging to meet is vital.
“A recent study showed children use an average of four social networks and apps , 18% of children aged between 7 and 17 have given out personal information online and 6% of children have met up in real life with people they have met online. “Every click just cannot be supervised. That is why talking to your children about online dangers is the best way to keep them safe.
"And they are never too young to do it. It’s like teaching them to cross the road safely. Children’s curiosity is fantastic and the internet is a force for good, but we just have to make sure they are curious in a walled garden.
“Check your app store settings to make sure your child can only download apps which are age-appropriate. Most social media networks, including Facebook , have a lower age limit of 13, so parents need to think really carefully about whether to agree to let their children use if they are under age.
Social media apps have brought new dangers
“When your child first uses social media, it’s a good idea to ‘friend’ them and also share their password so that you can key an eye on their social media activity. Make sure they understand not to share personal information like where they live or go to school.
“Check the privacy settings to make sure that they are only sharing and chatting with people they know. Most major social networks have a variety of useful settings. If your child is using an app that doesn’t have any privacy settings you might want to consider deleting it.
“If your child has a games console, check the parental controls setting on the console and also on social media networks they may also be using, so you know if they are playing online with others, or using their social media or browsing capabilities.
“Get familiar with how your child uses the internet through regular conversations. And ask them to show you what they enjoy doing most on the internet.
“Make sure your child knows they can come to you without fear or judgment if something they see upsets them or makes them feel uncomfortable. Make sure they understand never to meet up with anyone they don’t know in the real world.
“Finally, always remember that you play a major part as a role model for how your children behave. So you might want to give some thought about how your child sees you using the internet.
For more information with step-by-step guides on how to keep your children safe online go to internetmatters.org
Information links for parents