Greater Manchester Police, in conjunction with the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT), has issued advice for parents, guardians and carers to keep their children safe when online.
Learning how to maintain a balance between the potential good and harm that the internet offers to your child involves maintaining a careful balance between preventing them from being exposed to harm and allowing them to grow and learn.
Increasingly, children are using devices and smartphones at earlier ages, and while this can be entertaining and educational for them, the rest of the internet is only a few clicks away.
With younger and primary school aged children, it is recommended that any time on the internet is supervised. You can also take that time to give them guidance and advice on the parts and content on the internet that could be harmful to them.
This is a really important part of keeping your children safe online.
When your child get closer to and hits their earlier teenage years, they will undoubtedly want to join their friends and create social media accounts. There can be a lot of perceived peer pressure for them to so, and that will often be directed to you when they ask for permission.
Social media providers, like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube all have policies in place that require children to be at least 13 years old to have an account. While everyone recognises that children grow up at different paces, this minimum age should always be adhered to.
Maintaining communication with your child is the key to success.
Having a good conversation about the steps that they can take, with your support, to keep themselves safe online, has been found to be the most effective way to prevent harm.
Teaching them about the risks that sharing information on the internet can lead to is a central part of this conversation. Photographs and comments that are open to wide audiences can be exploited by cyberbullies, fraudsters or sexual offenders.
Learning with them about the ways in which they can apply their device and application security settings appropriately is a great way for you to make sure that their information is not overshared, and that features such as location sharing are disabled.
Keeping an ongoing dialogue with your child means they will turn to you at the first sign of danger – which allows you to intervene and guide them before serious harm is done.
DCI Katie-Louise Allen from GMP’s Online Child Abuse Investigation Unit, said: “We are actively working to keep children safe online on a daily basis, and we are able to do this best when we are working with parents, guardians, and carers to educate and protect children from harm on the internet.News