This page has been created to support the Online Safety for Parents Presentation delivered in schools across the UK. If you attended our presentation and found it useful, please forward our details to other schools. Thank you.
Frequently Asked Questions for Parents
It can seem difficult to keep up-to-date with the technology that children use. Children’s top concerns are pornography and violence that can be found on video sharing sites, the web, social networks and games. They are also concerned by online advertising, time spent online, inappropriate contacts and bullying.
What you can do as a parent
- Read these guidelines which have been provided as a support resource for the Online Safety for Parents Presentation by Catshill Learning Partnerships. Download the leaflet
- Implement technical controls
- Set up rules for online access and use
- Most importantly talk to your children about the consequences of online activities
How do young people report concerns?
If you or your child feel in danger right now call 999. You can report to CEOP if something has happened online which has made you feel unsafe, scared or worried. CEOP works to keep children safe from sexual abuse and sexual grooming online. Report abuse or concerns to CEOP here.
If your child is being bullied online, or they want to speak to someone right now, contact Childline here.
- Internet Watch Foundation – https://www.iwf.org.uk
- Images or videos showing sexual abuse
- ParentPort – http://www.parentport.org.uk
- Complaints about online content
- True Vision – http://report-it.org.uk
- Hate crime
- Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) – https://www.ceop.police.uk/ceop-reporting
- Inappropriate contact with an adult online
- Mobile Phone Operators
- Inappropriate content including texts
- Your phone operator (EE, Vodafone, BT, giffgaff, O2, Sky, Tesco, Three, Virgin)
Screen and Social Media Use
Advice from the UK Chief Medical Officer on screen and social media use published in 2019. Click the image to download.
Bullying – What to do
- Thank them for talking, try not to get upset, stay calm, reassure your child that you will help sort it out
- Don’t take over, ask them what they want to do, discuss options and make sure they are happy what will happen next
- If it is happening at school, talk to their teacher about monitoring, reporting and a lunchtime club they can join
- Ask your child if there is a member of staff they can talk to.
- Encourage your child not to react as if their being bullied. Tell them to remove themselves from the situation and report any bullying to an adult.
- Monitor your children and check in with the teacher. Try to stay positive
- Focus on the child’s strengths. Do activities that they enjoy to build confidence and self-esteem
- Keep a log of evidence in case you need to take the matter further
Screen time checklist
- Have family guidelines – like meal and bed times
- Establish a behaviour pattern as early as possible
- Set and agree boundaries based on location, days and times
- Share – Both your own and their online screen time and experiences
- Encourage creativity over watching- drawing, painting, coding, stories, videos
- Extend play beyond the screen – dressing up as a character, role play off the device
- Talk to your child regularly about what they are doing online and how to stay safe. Let them know they can come to you or another trusted adult if they’re feeling worried or upset by anything they have seen.
- Explore your child’s online activities with your child. Understand why they like using them and make sure they know what they can do to keep themselves safe.
- Agree your own rules as a family when using sites, apps and games.
- Manage your technology and use the settings available to keep your child safe.
How do I set up parental controls?
These controls are designed to help parents and carers manage their child’s online activities; however they don’t replace the need for adults to support and advise children using the internet. This online tool from Internet Matters helps you to set up a personalised list of the controls used in your home on all your devices. There is also advice on how to use the controls, with videos and step-by-step instructions.
Setting up children’s devices
Set up your child’s device using this checklist from Internet Matters.
Where are the safe search settings?
SafeSearch can help you block inappropriate or explicit images from your Google Search results. The SafeSearch filter isn’t 100% accurate, but it helps you avoid most adult content.
Restricted Mode is an opt-in setting available on the computer and mobile site that helps screen out potentially objectionable content that you may prefer not to see or don’t want others in your family to stumble across while enjoying YouTube. You can think of this as a parental control setting for YouTube.
Google Safe Search – Google Guide
YouTube Restricted Mode – YouTube
Where can I get guidance on the social media my children may be using?
You don’t need to know the ins and outs of all the apps and sites that are “hot” right now (and if you did, they wouldn’t be trendy anymore). Knowing the basics, what they are, why they’re popular, and what problems can crop up when they’re not used responsibly can make the difference between a positive and a negative experience for your child.
The site from Internet Matters below contains links to the parental guidance pages of most of the social media apps. CEOP have also produced useful guides and these are listed below.
Potentially risky sites for Children
Some sites have been identified as potentially risky for children. These include:
Ask.fm, Tumblr, Secret, Foursquare, Snapchat, Keepchat, SeekingArrangement.com, Yik Yak, Kik Messenger, Omegle, Whisper, After School.
Instagram – CEOP guidance
Whats App – CEOP guidance
Oovoo – CEOP guidance
Kik – CEOP guidance
Snapchat is very popular with young people. It is a free app that lets you send a photo, short video or message to your contacts. The ‘snap’ appears on screen for up to 10 seconds before disappearing. Concerns have been strangers adding you, you cannot control what you see when you open a Snapchat from someone else and others can screenshot your Snapchats and then share them. The NSPCC Netaware and Connect Safely have produced guidance for parents.
Fortnite Battle Royale
This popular game (PEGI age rating 12) contains cartoon violence including a variety of weapons used to kill others playing the game. A chat facility allows users to contact one another using text or voice. Players that have an account with the Epic (who produce the game) can add friends. It allows potentially expensive in-app purchases. The NSPCC Netaware page contains information for parents.
This is a very popular game that involves walking towards and capturing cartoon characters or Pokemon’s that are displayed on the screen of your smart phone. They are captured by by “throwing” a virtual ball from your screen.
Risks are centred around walking into objects, straying into unfamiliar or dangerous environments, access to personal data, the cost of in-app purchases and meeting strangers. There is useful guidance from the NSPCC , Parent Zone and the UK Safer Internet Centre.
A very popular music creation app. You can upload your own videos, remix others’ work, or browse content created by other users and by famous artists. Unsurprisingly as it involves popular music, there can be swearing and sexual content in the songs. Some families have encountered explicit sexual material despite the available settings and controls in the app. During an eight-day investigation, Channel 4 News found that nearly half of the streams viewed contained inappropriate content, directed to girls as young as nine.
No live moderation took place and none of the explicit exchanges – some lasting over an hour – were closed down. More details from Common Sense Media.
Identify the social media sites being used
The NSPCC’s Net Aware site is a great tool for identifying the social media that young people are using.
- Know what is on your child’s tablet or phone
- Ask how they are using apps, who they are adding, the conversations they are having and who they are talking to
- Agree a “contract” to look at their phone and check messages
- Show an interest in their digital habits
- Talk to them about what they are looking at
- Be honest and direct
- Make sure they know what to do if something goes wrong
- Let them know they can tell you anything. However shocked you are – don’t show it.
Age Appropriate Guidance
The following points may help in identifying actions that are appropriate to children of different ages.
- Explore together
- Put yourself in control
- Use passwords
- Search safely
- Be involved
- Manage access
- Help them through games
- Set boundaries
- Agree boundaries
- Explore together
- Put yourself in control
- Use airplane mode
- Stay involved
- Talk to siblings
- Search safely
- Check if it’s suitable
- Have free and frank discussions
- Manage their devices
- Put yourself in control
- Stay safe on the move
- Have an agreement
- Start discussions about social networking early
- Keep private information private
- Check age ratings
- Stay involved
- Keep their information private
- Stay safe on the move
- Be responsible
- Talk about online reputation
- Adjust controls
- Show you trust them
- Don’t give in
Online Gaming checklist
- Play together in a communal room
- Check age (PEGI) ratings
- Set up parental controls
- Take regular breaks
- Check play history
Social Media via Gaming Consoles
There are many games-specific chat rooms and ways to make friends online through consoles and other internet sites. Gaming platforms have their own way of allowing users to communicate. The popular social gaming platforms are Steam, Xbox Live, Playstation Network, Nintendo Network, Twitch and YouTube. Find out more from Internet Matters.
Information for parents and activities for young people
CEOP’s ThinkUknow site has information for parents and lots of fun activities for young people.
Internet Matters App
Internet Matters have a free tablet based app to help parents have conversations with their children about staying safe while online. The App is an interactive game, where parents and children work together to answer multiple choice questions on a number of topics, e.g. cyberbullying, privacy & identity, inappropriate content. The app has been developed to target parents with children aged 8-11. Each answers a number of questions in order to earn points towards a ‘tilting’ game which can be played together. Download the tablet-only app for free from Appstore or Googleplay
Romeo and Juliet
This short film that tells the age-old story of Romeo and Juliet… with a modern twist. It shows how the lives of these young lovers might play out online today, including the Lark ‘tweeting’ and Romeo ‘friending’ Juliet.
Teaching Social Media skills
There sites such as Grom Social or Club Penguin that are designed for young people and have safeguards in place such as filtering and strict rules against forbidden activities. It can be used to get a feel for the types of actions and activities one can engage in via social media. We suggest you talk to your children about communications basics, including what these types of platforms are good for and why people use them. It is a good idea to get them to work with them to show the ins and outs of social media accounts.
Language and acronyms
Web hosting reviewers WhoisHostingThis have produced a useful infographic that lists the sometimes confusing acronyms like “IDK” that young people use.
How do I keep my family safe and secure?
Free Wi-Fi is ideal when you and your family are travelling. Coffee shops, airports, hotels, shopping centres, restaurants and bars all have free Wi-Fi these days. However they also pose a huge risk to your online security. All it takes is a single hack of a Facebook account, banking password, or Gmail account (which has access to everything) to put you and your family at risk. Even at home it is possible for someone to hack into your child’s webcam and take photos or record conversations within minutes.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows you to access any public network but your activities remain like they were on a private one. The VPN hides your IP address by encrypting your connection. It means that you can browse the internet anonymously so that your web searches are not logged. It is much more secure to go online in this way.
A VPN is easy to install on your PC, tablet, phone or TV streaming device such as Amazon FireTV with an app or a download. Expect to pay around £4 a month to protect all your devices. There are free VPNs around but these can be quite limiting. Also bear in mind that VPNs pay affiliate sites to recommend them. Some sites are honest and give good recommendations, but with so many VPNs out there, it is hard to find recommendations of VPNs that don’t play the commission game. Take a look at vpnmentor.com for more information and reviews of free VPNs.