Internet Safety for Kids from the Creative Bus Stop

On the basis that kids grow up very quickly, and ours will all be planning their birthdays at Kim Kardashians Florida Resort before we can say “Thanks for doing the washing up” I have put together a simple list of tips to help us through these exciting times.

During ‘Safer Internet Day’,  The Guardian published these stats from the UK Safer Internet Centre.

According to the Safe Internet Centre report, 26% of British 11-16 year-olds use six or more social networks and messaging apps every week. The most popular individual services are YouTube and Facebook, used by 78% and 74% of this age group respectively. They’re followed by Snapchat (46%), Instagram (43%), Twitter and WhatsApp (both 37%) and Skype and Minecraft (both 32% – the latter game presumably included because children can play it together online).” 

Talk – All the Time

Communication and education is key on this one. Keep talking, sharing and being interested in their online worlds. If kids see that you’re interested and knowledgable about what’s ‘sick’ in tech’ they will want to talk to you about what they are enjoying online. This world for kids (games, social media, websites especially) is a constantly changing place, and it seems to adapt and reinvent itself as quickly as they grow out of trainers.

Common Sense

Kids need to be taught to use their common sense when navigating on-line. Once they understand the risks themselves, they will be able to avoid pitfalls, and check with you if they think they come across something suspicious. You could give your child a list of sites they are allowed to use, and those they are not. Ie. Only read sites with a co.uk, .edu, .org in the URL (although some .org may be dodgy too, so be extra careful). If you arm them with the knowledge they will feel more confident, and also overcome any anxiety they might have about what is right and wrong, after all it’s a minefield of information to take on at any stage of life.

Manners Taketh Mum & Dad Happy

Let them know that the same rules apply for behaviour and manners on-line as they do in real life. If you wouldn’t say something offensive to someone in the playground, then don’t feel it’s OK to say it to them online. The same applies to teenagers if they are thinking about writing on forums, or other ways of voicing their strong opinions . If their comments are published on-line, remind them that they can’t delete what has been posted, and potential employers, universities and so on are able to view it, and might use their online history as part of an application process in the future.

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Infographic from Protecting Your Kids Online here

House Rules : Downloads, Purchases and Pressing send on Instagram.

As parents we need to be ahead of the game! Try and be familiar with what your kids and their friends are playing, reading, and talking about at school. If you don’t know how to use a social media site they are signed up to, sign up yourself and learn how to use it. Also, remind them that it is you who pays the bills and that they aren’t allowed to shop online without your permission.

My 6-year old (who is the biggest tech lover in the house) recently asked for her own instagram account so she could share photos with her Dad. I’ve said I will show her how I set up my account, so I can use it as a way to teach her what is appropriate to post, how to set up her privacy settings, and learn how to delete too. (The age guidance for Instagram accounts is 13 years old. Read more about it from Instagram here.)

Safety Checks 

It’s essential that we discuss with everyone involved, that we all need to be as careful living in an online world, as we are in real life. Think about how we are programmed to put in place safety checks when leaving the house, or crossing the road, and that these are a set of rules we follow. We need to put in place similar ones when we set up our accounts, or register with sites online.

Teach your kids to refer to you if they aren’t sure about something, they shouldn’t just click on a link without asking your advice. If you explain how phishing sites work, and how they disguise themselves so well and try to explain that in one click on a request for more ‘golden eggs for that treasure hunt’, that they could spend a whole years pocket money.

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Google Safe Search

You can click here for an updated list of setting links for social media apps. (parent zone.org.uk)

By enabling SafeSearch via your google settings, you can filter out most of the mature content that you or your family may prefer to avoid. If an inappropriate result does sneak through, you can report it to Google.

YouTube & You Tube Kids Safety Mode

If you’d prefer not to see mature or age-restricted content as you browse YouTube, scroll to the bottom of any YouTube page and enable Safety Mode. Safety Mode helps filter out potentially objectionable content from search, related videos, playlists, shows and films. There is also You Tube Kids, where kids have access to child-friendly content that’s been pre-filtered to take the nasties out. Read about their parent guide here.

Restricted Profiles

You can create restricted profiles to prevent family members who may have access to your tablet from viewing mature content. You can also use restricted profiles for several purposes, i.e. With Parental controls selectively restrict family members from accessing mature content.

Privacy settings

Check your privacy settings at all times, would they want their teacher to see that photo too? Explain that we shouldn’t accept friendship requests from people we don’t know, and to check requests with you if they look to be coming from someone unknown. Also stress that they should never agree to a private chat with a stranger, and never ever post their mobile phone number, personal ID’s (like National Insurance/ Passport numbers) or their home address (which once posted online is available for all to search and see).

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Passwords and Strangers

Remind them why passwords are important, and what happens when your account gets hacked.  When setting passwords they could use long sentences as passwords, these are easy to remember, and harder for others to crack.

It’s better to be honest, by telling them there are strange people around that will try and be-friend them. It should also be discussed that no one should ever agree to meet with anyone they have met online, and even worse if the person asking them to do this tells them to keep it a secret. This is probably one of the most important things to discuss with kids, and in my book the earlier you do it the better.

Protection At All Times

Use antivirus software and update it regularly, (unless you have a Chromebook, which doesn’t need antivirus software). Teach your family not to accept files or to open email attachments from unknown people. Run network scans to help identify vulnerabilities. Also when you share documents with others via a messaging service, get in the habit of creating ‘private’ folders that only certain ‘users’ can access, and remember to delete files when you have finished with them.

Tell Me More

If you have any comments, or tips to share, please do so in the comments box below, it would be great to hear your stories, and know what you have put in place to help your family keep their online worlds safe and sound.

More useful websites;

Common Sense Media & Camden Online Safety & Internet Matters & NSPCC Online Safety & Safety Net Kids & BBC Newsround & Stay Safe Online & Bullying Online & Parenting.com & Saferinternet.org

IMPORTANT

If you have any concerns about grooming, sexual abuse or exploitation on any online app or site, Report to CEOP (the National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command) at www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre. If you are concerned that your child is in immediate danger, call 999.  

Note: The different apps regularly update both privacy and safety settings. Go to the app’s help section to check the current procedures. The positions of the settings may also differ on mobile and desktop versions.

image : credit; Visualization from the Opte Project of the various routes through a portion of the Internet : Wikipedia

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