How To Keep Your Children Safe Online - A Practical Guide

Child Using Smartphone

Social networking is hugely popular. Many young people are sophisticated in the way they use social media apps and websites, tailoring their communication for different audiences, and accessing them from a range of devices including smartphones, tablets, and games consoles.

But social media, like all forms of public communication, comes with some risks. Not all of these risks turn into actual problems; and if children never face any risks, they never learn how to deal with them. By helping your child understand what the risks are, you can play a big part in preventing them from turning into problems.

1. Understand the risks children may need to deal with:

What they might see or do:

  • Seeing or sharing of violent, sexual and pornographic content

  • Inaccurate or false information and extreme views

  • Promotion of harmful behaviours including self-harm, anorexia and suicide

  • Over-sharing of personal information

  • Actively or unintentionally getting involved in bullying or hurtful behaviour

Who they might meet:

  • People who might bully, intimidate or frighten

  • People posing behind fake profiles for:

  • Mischief-making

  • Sexual grooming and stalking

  • Blackmail and extortion

  • Identity theft and hacking

How this could affect them:

  • Fear of missing out leading to excessive use or exaggeration

  • Getting upset by things they have seen and being uncertain about what to do

  • Engaging, or being pressured into engaging in more risky behaviour either by accident or by design

  • Developing unrealistic, and perhaps depressing ideals of body image and gender

  • Becoming subject to peer pressure or interactions that are intense or too difficult to handle

  • Creating an online reputation that may create problems for them in the future

bully wordcloud

2. Practical tips to help minimize the risks your child might face

It’s good practice for apps and websites to have safety advice and well-designed safety features which can make a real difference to how safe your child will be when using them. Work through safety and privacy features on the apps that your child is using, or might use. Make sure they understand the point of these and how to use them.

  • Ask them to show you which social media apps they use and what they like about them. Talk about how they use them and what makes them so engaging

  • Explain how you can use privacy settings to make sure only approved friends can see posts & images

  • Check if any of their apps have ‘geo-location’ enabled, sharing their location unintentionally

  • Show them how to report offensive comments or block people who upset them

  • Check ‘tagging’ settings so that when others are posting or sharing photos online, your child’s identity is not revealed. Also, get people‘s consent before sharing photos

  • Encourage your child to come and talk to you if they see anything that upsets them

3. Keep talking and stay involved

In a mobile age, children can’t be completely protected, even by the best privacy controls; another child may use different settings. So it’s important to keep talking to your child about the implications of social media. Getting a sense of what they think is a useful place to start; you may be surprised by how much thought they may have given to the issues.

Encourage your child to think carefully about the way they, and others behave online, and how they might deal with difficult situations.

  • People may not always be who they say they are online: how can this create problems?

  • Why is it unwise to meet anyone in the real world that you’ve only ever met online?

  • Even if you think your messages are private, remember that words and images can always be captured and broadcast.

  • People present themselves differently online - do they really look like that? Are they always having that good a time?

  • Be aware that screens, and especially being anonymous, can lead people to say things they wouldn’t say to someone’s face.

  • There can be pressure to be part of a particular group online or to be seen to be following a certain set of ideas

Children using tablet

4. Use the BOSCO App

Bosco uses the native functionality of a mobile device provides raw data such as call logs, app usage and social media data to detect unusual events or threats on line and gives real-time alerts on child's activity only when your help is needed. Unlike other applications BOSCO gives parents the balance between monitoring their child activity and giving them the freedom and privacy to thrive. Bosco App aim to actively draw parents’ attention toward their child in cases that parental involvement is needed.

Features Include:

  • Mood detection - Find out if your child is depressed, angry or stressed out. Mood detection is based on child’s intonation analysis while using their mobile phone

  • Inappropriate content alerts - Find out if your child has offensive content once happens and get alerts only if a possible inappropriate content found

  • Daily Routine Updates - Be sure your child makes it safely to school and back home. Monitors child's normal routine and notifies parents when the child arrived or left safe places.

  • Child Location Tracking - Know where is your child while out of reach and track child's location in real-time.

  • Child’s Battery level - Monitor your child’s battery level. Bosco will automatically send a location status when the battery level is less than 15%, and a charge is needed

  • Unrecognised calls alerts - Keep track of who your child is talking to, and know when there is an unknown call which might be a threat.

  • Social Network Change - Be there to help and prevent cyber bullying, when any significant changes in friends or followers happen

#onlinesafety #guide #cyberbullying #socialmedia #parentingtips

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