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Who are your children talking to online?

Have you asked if your child knows everyone they communicate with online?

You may like to talk to them about who they accept as contacts and the concerns about sharing information with strangers.  Have they met everyone that they are friends with on Facebook or chat to on Xbox live?

Remind your children not to give personal details out on line and tell them to think twice before accepting friend requests from someone that they haven’t met.

The best way to keep your whole family safe online is to engage with your child’s digital life and regularly talk to them about staying safe online.


Below are five “conversation starters”:

 1.      Ask your child to tell you about the sites they like to visit and what they enjoy doing online.

2.      Ask your child to tell you how they stay safe online. What tips do they have for you, and where did they learn them? What do they feel is okay and not okay to share?

3.      Ask them if they know where to go for help, where to find safety advice, privacy settings and how to report or block on the services they use.

4.      Encourage your child to do a ‘good digital deed’ to help others. Perhaps they can show you how to do something better online or they might have a friend that would benefit from their help and support.

5.      Think about how you use the internet as a family. What could you do to get more out of the internet together and further enjoy yourselves on line?


The Internet, whether accessed from a computer, mobile phone or other device, has become part of modern family life. It is used to buy and sell goods, online banking, finding information and socialising. It can also have a darker side with cybercrime, inappropriate material and illegal activity taking place online, effecting both adults and children. E-Safety is concerned with the safeguarding of young people in the "digital" world and ensuring they feel safe when accessing new technology.


Technology offers immensely exciting benefits and opportunities for everyone but it can also expose children and adults to inappropriate and criminal behaviour if they are unaware of the dangers, such as:


  • Copying information from the Internet or buying work from other people to use as their own

  • Not considering the reliability of material online is it accurate and reliable?

  • Viewing pages or content which may be unsuitable such as hate material, adult content, sites that promote unhealthy behaviour or attitudes etc

  • Giving out too much personal information to people or websites online, e.g. name, school, contact information

  • Becoming involved in or being the victim of bullying, identity theft, or making and sending indecent or even illegal images

  • Arranging to meet an online 'friend' or sharing content without thinking about consequences and dangers.


Don't Panic

Talk to your child and ask them to show you, or even teach you, how they use the internet and the computer, learn which websites or tools they like to use and why.


  • Make sure you know what your children are doing online much like you would in "real" life such as what sites they visit and who they talk to? Ensure they know not to share personal information that could identify them in the offline world with anyone online.

  • Be clear about not sharing information online such as names, schools, phone numbers, email addresses, photos of themselves, with ANY online friends. Have clear rules about making and meeting with online friends safely.

  • Talk to your child about the risks of downloading files from unknown or potentially illegal sources (such as peer to peer and file sharing sites like Limewire etc) or copying information from sites.

  • Use child or family friendly search engine such as the CBBC Safe Search with younger children and bookmark favourite sites for your children to use.

  • Wherever possible, locate your computer in a family area and supervise younger children. Always supervise the use of webcams in your home.

  • Filter unsuitable sites so that they cannot be seen or used by your children.

  • Be aware that some devices, such as Mobile Phones and handheld Games Consoles, are also able to access the internet and bypass filtering. Consider putting parental controls in place either by contacting your mobile phone provider or from the console/device's settings directly to restrict content and access.

  • Always ensure your child knows how to block or report another user who may be sending nasty or inappropriate messages or content. Make sure you child knows to tell an adult they trust if they see something online that makes them feel scared, worried or uncomfortable. If your child receives any abusive messages keep them for evidence purposes to show to the academy or police.

  • Be realistic - banning the internet will not work - children use computers and games consoles at friends' houses and at the academy so education around its safe use is essential.


In the home

Children spend lots of time using the Internet at the academy, at friends' houses, on a mobile phone, via a games console or at home. They might visit social networking sites like Bebo, Myspace and Facebook, use instant messaging such as MSN or Yahoo messenger, to chat to friends or play on online gaming sites like Club Penguin, Runescape and mini-clip. These are often blocked on the academy computers, but are very popular with children.


You can buy special filtering and blocking software to protect your children, and most Internet browser software has some filters and security in place. Filtering software lets parents choose what is suitable for their children to look at, but parents must be aware that this software is not always 100% effective.


If you keep your PC 'anti-virus' security up to date you should not have problems with most threats from the Internet or from downloaded email attachments. The popular browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox also let you control or block things such as unwanted pop-up advertisements and "cookies" (cookies - this is when a website downloads a small file to your PC to remember your name or login details). Parents must be aware that anti-virus software is not always 100% effective.