To find out more about helping your child to stay safe online visit https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/
Abusive adults actively use the internet (for example chat rooms and online games) to target children and young people. They may pretend to be a child themselves to earn trust.
They can learn a lot from a very small amount of information. A school badge in a photo can reveal where the child goes to school. This information can be used on other social networking sites to identify classmates. These pieces of information can be used to convince a child that they are in touch with someone their own age, possibly from their school, who lives nearby.
To find out more about helping your child to stay safe online visit the Thinkuknow website (https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/). It contains important information for adults, young people and children about internet safety, cyber bullying and issues like sexting. It also has fun games to help younger children learn how to be safe on-line.
If something has happened to a child or young person online that worries you, you can contact Social Work on 0300 300 1199 or Police Scotland on 101.
Cyberbullying and cyberstalking
Cyberbullying is bullying using digital technologies such as computers, games consoles and mobile phones. If someone is stalking someone else over the internet it's known as cyberstalking.
respectme, Scotland's Anti-Bullying Service, offers comprehensive advice on cyberbullying which includes a useful downloadable booklet and reference guide.
Reporting suspected on-line grooming and cyberbullying
You and your child can also report any suspicious, threatening or offensive behaviour to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre.
Online advice you should give children
- Don’t arrange to meet someone in real life that you only know through the Internet. If you do decide meet someone from the Internet then take someone with you, preferably an adult (taking a friend just puts two young people at risk). Arrange to meet in a busy, public place
- Never put your full address online
- Don’t use your real name – use a nickname that doesn’t identify you.
- Do put your real age on your webpage. If you lie about your age you may get adults contacting you
- Don’t put your mobile phone number online. Your real friends will already have it
- Use the privacy settings to limit what people you don’t know can see
- Tell an adult that you trust if something happens online that makes you uncomfortable or afraid or push the CEOP’s report button on www.thinkuknow.co.uk or www.ceop.police.uk
- Don’t post any image online that you wouldn’t be happy to show your parents. Once an image is online it can be copied and forwarded. Even if you delete it from your computer it may well already have been downloaded and saved by someone else
- Don’t put images on-line which give away personal information, such as school photos where the name of the school can be seen
- Don’t open files or email attachments that you have been sent by people you don’t know. There are programmes which can take over your computer and ‘wake them up’ during the night. If you have a web cam this means a stranger can potentially watch you at night.
- Remember that things that may seem funny and harmless now can come back to haunt you later. Students have been thrown off courses and people have lost their jobs because of things that they have posted on Facebook. Colleges and employers often check the personal profile of people that they are thinking about offering a place on a course of a job.
What you can do
- Most importantly build trust between you and your child so that they feel comfortable talking to you about their problems and any worries that they might have
- Find out about the people in your child’s life. Strathclyde Police’s Keeping Children Safe scheme allows you to check the background of anyone who has contact with your child
- Take an interest in your child’s life and make time for them
- Try and be at least as computer literate as your children!
- Learn about parental controls for your computer and your child’s mobile phone if they have one. Many children now use smart phones to access the Internet. Controls are sometime hard to use but instructions are usually available through search engines like Google.
- Make sure you are aware of the age restrictions for chatrooms and sites that your child visits. For example, only young people aged thirteen and over are eligible to sign up for a Facebook account, young people must be thirteen or older.
- You can buy software which allows you to put time limits on how long your child spends on social networking sites like Facebook. The software can also be set up to block searches using key words and also to alert you if your child gets messages from chat rooms which contain alarming phrases. Some programmes also allow you to read what your child is posting on their Facebook page etc. Before installing this type of software you should talk it over with your child first!
- Make sure that your child has the strongest possible privacy settings on any social networking sites they use
- Speak to you child and make sure they are very careful about what information they share and who they decide to be ‘friends’ with. Remember if the privacy settings aren’t up to the maximum your child may also find that their page can be seen by friends of friends
- Remember that games consoles can also be used to access the Internet and that online games are also used by adults as a way of meeting children to groom
- Teach your child to recognise grooming behaviour
- Make sure any computer your child uses has up-to-date and effective antivirus and firewall software in place.
- If you suspect your child is being groomed, immediately limit your child’s contact with the person in question. Talk to your child in a reassuring way about their relationship with the person. Contact the Social Work on 0300 300 1199 or the Police on 101 immediately if you discover that your child is being groomed or has been sexually abused.
Staying safe on Facebook
Tips for parents:
- It can be tough to keep up with technology. Don’t be afraid to ask your kids to explain it to you
- If you're not already on Facebook or other social media sites that your child uses, consider joining. That way you'll understand what it's all about
- Teach your children the online safety basics so they can keep their Facebook Profile (and other online accounts) private and safe
- Talk about technology safety in the same way you might talk about stranger danger.
Find out more about protecting your child on Facebook.
Sexting is sending sexually explicit messages via mobile phone, e-mail,web chat, social networking sites, Bluetooth or instant messenger. To put it simply Sexting = sex + texting.
What is concerning about sexting is that it is rapidly increasing in popularity.
Explicit images are often taken when the victim is not in a position to make a good decision – for example, at a party where large amounts of alcohol have been consumed or when consent was not given to the sex being filmed and shared.
Children and young people are often unaware of the potential consequences of sexting. Once images are in cyberspace they can never be deleted and can be transmitted around the world in a very short space of time.
You should be prepared to discuss this issue with your children. The key messages to get across to children and young people are:
- Don’t assume anything you send or post is going to remain private.
- There is no changing your mind in cyberspace – anything you send or post will never truly go away.
- Don’t give in to pressure to do something that makes you uncomfortable.
- Explicit pictures can attract abusive adults who may try and groom or blackmail the young person. The young person may in fact have been pressured into posting the images in the first place.
- If a child or young person has an indecent image of another child or young person, they are technically in possession of an indecent image of a child, which is an offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
You can find more information about sexting on the Women’s Support Project website http://www.womenssupportproject.co.uk/content/groomingandsexualisation/303,172/