Useful Information for parents
As with the real world, there are risks online and it’s important that you teach your child how to navigate them:
- Cyber bullying
- Inappropriate Websites
- Losing control over pictures and videos
Cyber bullying is when someone uses the internet or technology to bully someone else.
As we use the internet and technology everywhere, this type of bullying can affect young people not just at school, but at home as well.
It can sometimes be hard to identify who the bully is because they can block their number, email or post things on websites anonymously. The nature of this bullying means it can have a large audience, many of whom may not even realise they are being bullies.
This kind of bullying can be evidenced. With bullying before this technology, it could be one person’s word against another’s. With cyber bullying, you can save texts or print out emails / IM’s / Webpages. This can be used as proof to catch the bully.
If your child has been cyber bullied, make sure that they:
- Do not respond to the bully
- Block contact with the bully.
- Save relevant communication, such as texts, emails or webpage’s.
- Report the incident either to the web-site or service provider, your child’s school and, if it is persistent harassment, to the police.
Grooming is a process of manipulating a child to gain control over them.
Sadly, people do attempt to make contact with children over the internet. This may be in social networking sites, chatrooms or games. They could be pretending to be some-one else or showing an interest in them.
It is important that children understand that people like this exist and that they should never do anything online or offline that they are uncomfortable with.
If you are concerned about someone’s behaviour towards your child, you can report this directly to CEOP at https://www.ceop.police.uk/ceop-reporting/
The internet is open for anyone to post material on it; therefore sometimes your child may see things that they wish they hadn’t or are inappropriate for their age.
Parental controls can help reduce the risk of your child seeing age inappropriate sites. However, no parental filters are 100% effective and inappropriate material can always slip through the net.
You should encourage your child to tell you if they have seen anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or upset so that you can help them. If you think the content might be illegal, like inappropriate images of children and young people, you can report it directly to an organisation called the Internet Watch Foundation: www.iwf.org.uk. It’s their job to make sure that things like this are taken off the internet.
Young people are growing up online and may be posting information which in the past would have been written in their secret diary. These thoughts, opinions and activities provide a window to their lives at a time where jobs and responsibility might be far from their minds.
The internet provides permanent records of these highs and lows which, if not controlled carefully, may be accessible to future employers, universities or friends.
Young people should think about what they share, where they share it and who they share it with, what seems funny now may not do in the future.
Losing control over pictures and videos
Pictures and videos can be copied, shared and spread at great speed. What may have started as being posted for a few friends can very quickly end up in the hands of the entire school and beyond. Some young people have posted or sent private pictures of themselves to a friend and found them shared further.
Some of the main risks with this type of image being in the hands of someone else include:
- Bullying – young people can be bullied by others about the content of pictures.
- Distress – knowing that other people they do not know are looking at personal pictures can be very upsetting.
- Blackmail – if the images end up in the hands of someone with bad intentions, they may be used to attempt to manipulate the child.
- Reputation – once something is online it is very difficult to remove. Images can become part of a young person’s ‘digital foot-print’ and potentially affect them in the long-term, such as if someone searches their name as part of a university or job interview.
With limitless information, endless games and the ability to escape from the real world, young people’s relationship with the internet can become unhealthy.
This can be a problem when a young person’s online behaviour diverts and distracts them from other activities – this might be school work, seeing their friends or even sleeping and eating.
The amount of time young people spend playing games can become unhealthy. If they are gaming against people around the world, they may want to be involved in activities that take place at unsociable hours and may find it difficult to stop. The fact that other players are real people can put pressure on young people to take part as they don’t want to let their gaming friends down.
Young people can be someone else online. Therefore, if they are unhappy in the real world, they may want to spend more time online.
As a parent or carer, you should be alert to the amount of time they are spending online and aware of the issues that might be causing a dependency.
Parental Control Tools
As well as being involved in your child’s life online, there are a number of tools that you can use to help keep them safe.
Most social networking sites, like Instagram, Facebook etc..., now give your child a lot of control over what they share and who they share it with. Through a site’s ‘privacy settings’ you are able to control:
- Who can search for you – this means that when people search your name on a site, your profile does not come up.
- Who sees what – this means that you can control the information you share, like your photos or ‘wall’ posts. You can usually restrict this to friends only, friends of friends, certain groups of friends, or everyone. We would recommend that for young people it is restricted to friends only.
- Who can post information about you – some sites enable others to ‘tag’ photos of you or share other information about you, like your location. Many sites enable you to re-strict people’s ability to do this.
It is important that you stay up-to-date with the privacy settings that your child uses and help them stay in control of their profiles.
For more information about privacy settings:
As a parent or carer it can be difficult to monitor what your child is up to online. Most parents and carers trust their children online, but it can be easy for a child to stumble across things that might upset or disturb them.
Filtering and moderation packages are a good way to stop the majority of inappropriate and harmful content coming into your home. They are a tool to help you set and change online boundaries in line with your child’s development.
There are some great packages out there, some are free and some come at a cost.
How can this help me?
Every parental control package is different, but most provide services such as:
- Filtering - content to restrict access to particular sites.
- Time limits – restrict the amount of time your child can be online, or set periods of time where your child can access certain sites.
- Monitoring – where you are informed of certain sites that your child is attempting to gain access to.
- Reporting – where you are provided with information about what sites your child has used.
Where do I get them?
There are three main levels for applying parental controls.
- Internet Service Providers (ISP’s). These are the organisations that pipe the internet to your home (like Virgin Media, Talk Talk, Sky and BT). All of the major ISP’s pro-vide parental control packages. These can allow you to apply controls across all of the devices that access the internet through your home connection – such as lap-tops or games consoles.
- Devices that connect to the internet. Most computers, mobiles and games consoles now come with parental controls that can be applied. For example, within Windows and the Mac operating systems, there are parental controls that can be set for individual devices.
- Software - There are a wide range of packages available to buy or sometimes down-load for free – always look for reputable companies and check out reviews online.
Does this make my child safe?
Parental controls will never make the internet 100% ‘safe’. They should not be used as a substitute for communicating safety messages to your child. Make sure that you talk to your child about their behaviour online and remember, your home is not the only place they will be accessing the internet!
BT‘s Security package is called BT Family Protection. This lets you choose the right level of protection for each child on up to three computers in your home. With this service you can:
Block websites – stop your kids from seeing inappropriate content
Set time limits – manage how long your children spend online
Get instant alerts – get email or text alerts when your kids try to view blocked sites or post confidential information
Social networking tools – control the use of social networks like Facebook and Twitter and set up text alerts if personal information is posted
YouTube filtering – a unique technology to prevent exposure to unsuitable content
Usage reports – review your children's online activity from anywhere in the world.
As well as parental controls, you also get: advanced spam filtering – with image blocking to protect children from offensive content
BT Cleanfeed – blocks sites classified as illegal by the Inter-net Watch Foundation
Access to our internet abuse prevention team – for children or parents to report any concerns
Talk Talk’s Internet security service is called HomeSafe.
Built into the broadband network itself, HomeSafe is designed to help you block every device in your home from websites you've defined as unsuitable for your home.
Parents also have the option to control the after school homework routine specifically. It's been developed in partnership with their panel of parents and online safety experts.
Certain parental controls are available for free to all Virgin Media broad-band customers. With Virgin Media Security’s Parental Control you can:
- Screen out offensive material
- Filter sites by pre-defined age categories
- Add exceptions or block specific sites
- Control access to specific content types like chat or social networking
- Set an access schedule for individual users
- See a history of sites viewed, including those that were blocked
Plusnet offer Plusnet Protect Internet Security. With this service, either offered free or for a small charge dependent on your Broadband package, parents and carers are able to set safe boundaries for children with parental controls.
- Age-appropriate website filtering - your child can view only age-appropriate websites, and review or change the type of content available to your children.
- Safe searching - Ensure that the safety filters of some popular search engines are turned on to automatically.
- Filter list - Allow or block specific website addresses
- Web browsing schedule - Limit the amount of time your child spends on the web
- Password protected settings - Protect the Parental Controls settings with a pass-word, so that only you can make changes to the protection settings you assign to your children
Sky offer Sky Broadband Shield, available free for all Sky Broadband customers. Sky Broadband Shield lets you control the level of protection you want for your home when online with Sky Broadband, across all of the devices connected to your home network. It includes additional security features to help protect your family from sites that collect private information or disrupt your device
McAfee’s Parental Controls help control when your children can be online, monitor/control what web-sites they can visit.
There are a range of useful websites that provide information for parents and children:
Please see our e-safety policies below