This post was written as part of Safer Internet Day. To find out more, visit http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/
For children between 13 and 18, the internet is likely a large part of their day to day lives. It's on their computer when they're at school, it's on their phone when they are out and about, and it's on their laptop or device at home. However, when using the internet to socialise, game or even browse YouTube, children and teenagers could be subject to cyber bullying, hate and online predators.
Here are Transcendit's top tips on how to make sure that your child or teenager stays safe when using the internet.
1. Talk about the sites they use
A conversation can go a long way toward keeping your children safe. Talk to your children about what sites they enjoy, and how they're using them. Then familiarise yourself with those sites so that if your child comes to you with a problem you're equipped to deal with it. You'll be a lot more understanding of griefing if you've played a couple of hours of Minecraft on a public server.
Teach teenagers how to recognise secure sites using the icons in the web address bar, and consider installing WOT on their browser so they can see how trustworthy a site is on Google before they click.
2. Don't do online what you wouldn't do in person
With younger children, discuss the dangers of talking to strangers or adding people on social media that they don't know in real life. If they're ever unsure of what is right or wrong, tell them to come and find you - or to imagine a parent or a teacher is standing behind them.
With teenagers, talk about how potential employers and universities nearly always do internet searches prior to offering someone an interview or a job. That off the cuff Facebook comment is going to sound a lot less funny coming from an interviewer.
3. To share or not to share?
Make sure that your children know when it is safe to share information, and when it isn't. Check what is public on their Facebook profile, and remind them that once they have sent something to someone, they have no control over where it goes after that.
Teach young children especially to come and talk to you whenever a site or a person asks them for personal details, photographs or any specific information - or if someone they're talking to requests that a conversation remain private.
4. Report, block and screenshot
For most sites where users can interact, there is the option to report individuals for certain behaviour and block them from being able to contact you. Make sure your child knows how to do this on the sites they use the most.
For teenagers, make sure that they understand the real world implications of inappropriate behaviour online. Teach them to always screenshot anything that's targeted at them or another person that raises red flags, because the evidence can be used against the perpetrator.
5. Set up parental controls
However, be aware that the older your children get, the more tech savvy they'll become and the more likely they'll be able to get around these controls. At this stage have another conversation about how to stay safe and protect themselves, particularly using password protection.
If you're worried about internet security, we can help. Give us a call on 0191 482 0444 to see how we can make your browsing experience safer.