Wednesday, 5 February 2014

What is YOUR child doing online?

There has been much in the news recently about youngsters running up large bills by downloading Apps and accessories for their online games. Whilst it’s easy to think it won’t happen to me, do any of us really understand what our youngsters get up to online?! Even if you’re a computer whizz, it’s still likely that you’ll be playing catch-up with the way your child is using the internet (remember how you had to operate the Betamax video for your parents?!)!

As your child grows and becomes more independent, it is only natural that they take this independence online. In our teenage years we explore, try new things and sometimes push boundaries and take risks; this is an essential part of growing up, even if it does lead to grey hair for parents.

The internet has changed all of our lives, and your child has grown up during this change. Many of the things that confuse, baffle or even alarm us, are part of the everyday for them.

Talk to your child about what they’re up to online. Be a part of their online life; involve the whole family and show an interest. Find out what sites they visit and what they love about them. If they know you understand they are more likely to come to you if they have any problems.

Encourage your child to go online and explore! There is a wealth of age-appropriate sites online for your children. Encourage them to use sites which are fun, educational and that will help them to develop online skills.

Keep up-to-date with your child’s development online. Children grow up fast and they will be growing in confidence and learning new skills daily. It’s important that as your child learns more, so do you.

Set boundaries in the online world just as you would in the real world. Think about what they might see, what they share, who they talk to and how long they spend online. It is important to discuss boundaries at a young age to develop the tools and skills children need to enjoy their time online.

Keep all equipment that connects to the internet in a family space. For children of this age, it is important to keep internet use in family areas so you can see the sites your child is using and be there for them if they stumble across something they don’t want to see.

Know what connects to the internet and how. Nowadays even the TV connects to the internet (you might not realise that it does, but your teenagers certainly will!). Make sure you’re aware of which devices that your child uses connect to the internet, such as their phone or games console. Also, find out how they are accessing the internet – is it your connection, or a neighbour’s wifi? This will affect whether the safety settings you set are being applied.

Use parental controls on devices that link to the internet, such as the TV, laptops, computers, games consoles and mobile phones. Parental controls are not just about locking and blocking, they are a tool to help you set appropriate boundaries as your child grows and develops. They are not as difficult to install as you might think – perhaps get your children to show you how!!

Remember, if you have information about any crime, please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or click where you can also give details anonymously.

For further Crimestoppers updates please follow me on Twitter @HantsCrimestopp

PC 741 Simon Wright

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