The Internet should be a fun and useful tool for your children. However, some people use the Internet to harm them; either through the distribution of indecent images or by 'grooming' children online so that they can be abused in the future.
To make sure your children are able to use the internet safely, follow these guidelines:
- make sure you know how to use the computer and that you know of the services your child uses
- spend time online together - your child will be able to learn from you (and possibly vice versa!). Learning together can open opportunities to discuss safe practice with your child.
- keep the computer in a family room so that you can see what your child is doing online
- discuss and establish rules for internet use and make sure your child understands the reasons behind the rules - it is not that you don't trust your child, it is about keeping them safe from people who don't have their best interests at heart
Safety and security tips
- you and your child know of ways to block obscene or indecent material
- your child knows never to give out personal information online, such as names, telephone numbers, addresses and school details. Always set up accounts with a username or nick name.
- Make sure your child understands that some people they meet online may not be who they say they are
- your child knows never to arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they've met online without your permission. If a meeting is arranged, make sure it is in a public place and you go along as well. If you have any doubts or suspicions, contact the police.
- your child understands that they shouldn't respond to messages or posts that are sexually suggestive, obscene, provocative or threatening. If they receive anything offensive, send a copy to your Internet Service Provider. If the material relates to child abuse anywhere in the world, criminally obscene content hosted in the UK, or material which incites racial hatred hosted in the UK, please send a copy to the Internet Watch Foundation
- don't allow your child to go into private chat rooms or sites unless you are present
- consider using an online service that has special accounts for children - these accounts restrict access to unsuitable chat rooms and websites
- monitor your credit card bill - many pornographic and gambling sites require credit card payments to gain access
- some websites also collect information called 'cookies'. Cookies are lists of information that may include your telephone number and possibly even your credit card number. Use the security settings in your web browser. Many Internet Service Providers have information on their website about security options.
Report a problem or threatening behaviour online
- If you see inappropriate images or behaviour on a website or social networking site, report it directly to the site where they appear. Also contact the police.
- If you think your child is being threatened or made to feel unsafe online, there are a number of people you can contact to report it;
- Contact the police
- Report it to CEOP (the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre).
- Report it to the Internet Watch Foundation
- Report it to your Internet Service Provider. ISPs have rules about online behaviour. If anyone breaks those rules they have their account suspended temporarily. If the problem continues the account will be closed permanently.