Keeping children happy and safe online during COVID-19
As UK schools close, or run at a limited capacity as a result of COVID-19, we know that parents and careers are having to manage their child's use of technology and help them learn remotely.
Here are lots of useful resources and tools that you as a parent or carer can use to help ensure your child is safe and happy online.
As your children spend more time at home and are going to be online more than ever, we’ve pulled together a list of easy-to-use resources. They are broken up into ages and include quick activities, films and plenty more fun ways to engage with your children. From identifying fake news to online bullying – there is plenty for you and your family to use.
We will be adding more content for each age group as time goes on. If there are any particular topics or ways of working you would like to see more of then don't hesitate to message or tweet us @uk_sic.
As young people spend more time online there is also an increase in the chances they will see something online which isn't intended for them. Whether this is fake news, impersonation, or mean comments, there are lots of places you can go to for help and advice on how to report this behaviour. Together as a family you can also help prepare your children and build their critical thinking skills.
reportharmfulcontent.com is a website designed to help you report anything which you believe shouldn't be online. There’s guidance about how to report different types of content as well as help with the next steps you can take if your report isn't actioned by the site or service you have made it on.
For young people - depending on the age of your child there are a range of places they can go to for help. For younger children they can call Childline for help and support, and for older children The Mix offer free and practical advice.
For parents and carers - The O2 and NSPCC helpline can help you with any questions or concerns you may have about keeping your child safe online. They can provide you with advice and help to troubleshoot any problems your family may be facing.
For educators or professionals - The Professionals Online Safety Helpline will continue to operate Monday to Friday 10:00am – 4:00pm. This helpline can assist with any online safety issues or concerns any professional working with children and young people may have. For help and support, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
A family agreement is a great way to start a conversation with your whole family about how you all use the internet. As you have everyone at home, it’s a fantastic way to set boundaries and discuss how you are all going to use technology during this time. Where is tech going to be used in your home? How are you going to share it and what times of the day can different family members have access? It's also a great way to discuss how to behave online and talk about what happens if something upsets or worries your child.
As a parent or carer, the best tool to support your child in leading a happy and safe life online is open conversation. Our Parents' Guide gives advice on how to begin these discussions, how to work together as a family to support your child online, and how to handle difficult conversations or situations.
From livestreaming and parental controls, to grooming, our website has advice for parents and carers on a range of topics.
We are seeing some ingenious ways of people keeping in touch using technology, from virtual PE lessons with The Body Coach on YouTube, to year groups having Skype calls at the time when school breaks would be. There are so many ways that young people can stay connected during this time.
We would love to know how you are all staying connected during these school and work closures. Be sure to share your plans with us on Twitter @uk_sic.
The internet is an amazing resource which enables children and young people to connect, communicate and be creative in a number of different ways, on a range of devices.
However, the internet is always changing, and being able to keep up to date with your children’s use of technology can be a challenge.
You may sometimes feel that your children have better technical skills than you do, however children and young people still need advice and protection when it comes to managing their lives online.
Issues that your child may encounter on the internet will vary depending on their age and online activities. We have grouped potential online risks into these 4 categories.
Children need to be aware of the impact that their online activity can have on both themselves and other people, and the digital footprint that they create on the internet. It’s easy to feel anonymous online and it’s important that children are aware of who is able to view, and potentially share, the information that they may have posted. When using the internet, it’s important to keep personal information safe and not share it with strangers. Discuss with your child the importance of reporting inappropriate conversations, messages, images and behaviours and how this can be done.
Some online content is not suitable for children and may be hurtful or harmful. This is true for content accessed and viewed via social networks, online games, blogs and websites. It’s important for children to consider the reliability of online material and be aware that it might not be true or written with a bias. Children may need your help as they begin to assess content in this way. There can be legal consequences for using or downloading copyrighted content, without seeking the author’s permission.
It is important for children to realise that new friends made online may not be who they say they are and that once a friend is added to an online account, you may be sharing your personal information with them. Regularly reviewing friends lists and removing unwanted contacts is a useful step. Privacy settings online may also allow you to customise the information that each friend is able to access. If you have concerns that your child is, or has been, the subject of inappropriate sexual contact or approach by another person, it’s vital that you report it to the police via the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (www.ceop.police.uk). If your child is the victim of cyberbullying, this can also be reported online and offline. Reinforce with your child the importance of telling a trusted adult straight away if someone is bullying them or making them feel uncomfortable, or if one of their friends is being bullied online.
Young people’s privacy and enjoyment online can sometimes be affected by advertising and marketing schemes, which can also mean inadvertently spending money online, for example within applications. Encourage your children to keep their personal information private, learn how to block both pop ups and spam emails, turn off in-app purchasing on devices where possible, and use a family email address when filling in online forms.
If you want to explore key internet issues in more detail, including cyberbullying, pornography, sexting and more, then see Childnet's Hot Topics.