From colouring in online pictures of The Octonauts with a virtual paintbrush to surfing the net for homework and school assignments, the Internet has opened up an exciting world of opportunity for children. Innocently or intentionally, they are exposed to the web world. Especially when parents are finishing their household chores or when they are busy working on an assignment. Before they know it, their children are playing online games and are slowly inching their way into the World Wide Web.
Imagine a situation where you are looking up things together (with your child) on the web and an online dating app ad pops up, featuring an inappropriate image of a female model. Would this worry you? Agreed, children wouldn’t necessarily understand it. Unnervingly though, as they get older, they will be curious to explore the ample avenues that the web world offers and clearly, the risks they face will get more serious. But as far as Internet safety goes, do not impose restrictions or ban the Internet – one of the most important things is to keep the conversation going.
Last year, the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, declared there would be a series of new measures to improve the global response to online child sexual exploitation. He also announced a collaboration between the NCA and GCHQ using the latest cyber techniques to target online offenders and a £50 million global fund to combat violence against children.
However, a recent article highlights the fact that the Government’s promise on implementing a law to tackle online grooming of children has still not come into force, almost two years after it was announced.
Condemning this delay, the NSPCC Chief Executive, Peter Wanless said: “The Government cannot afford to dawdle over something as essential as keeping young people safe online. The police and public have spoken, and the Government said that they had listened. Now it is high time that they stopped dragging their feet and brought this law into effect.”
Identifying grooming tendencies and preventing them
In a growing number of child sexual abuse cases, the children in question are ‘groomed’ by online predators. To get a deeper understanding on this issue, refer to our previous article where we have explained in detail what online grooming is, its effect on children, and how to prevent it.
Teaching your children to use the web safely
Most children today are incredibly adept when it comes to using computers and surfing the net. It can be a magical world for them, as it seems to answer almost any question, helps them with their homework and provides entertainment through games, music and videos.
Naturally, parents and teachers want to keep their children safe while they enjoy all the benefits of the worldwide web. This is an area that we, at Securus, care passionately about. We do not believe the positive benefits of the Internet should be lost to our children because of concerns around e-Safety.
How can you help your children stay safe online?
A Guardian article by Stuart Dredge, features Internet security experts’ advice and useful tips for how children can safeguard themselves online. Here are some tips:
- Ensure that you discuss e-Safety at an early age. Before they get older and begin to do things independently, teach them about internet security protection, passwords, etc. and help them understand its importance.
- The best advice to give your children: ‘if you wouldn’t do it face to face – don’t do it online.’ For instance, ask them: “would you be comfortable going up to a complete stranger and starting a conversation in the real world?”
- Your children could be vulnerable to adults contacting them, therefore it is important for you to ensure that they beware of strangers bearing gifts online.
- Remember, if your child writes something online, they can’t delete it. Therefore, it is worth reminding them that their online footprint could affect how they are perceived in the future.
- Before you hand over any Internet connected device, acquaint yourself with how it works.
- Keep talking about e-Safety issues on a regular basis. This helps build trust and open communication around the topic and is a much better option than imposing restrictions or banning the Internet.