Online safety is a term which means not only the internet but other ways in which young people communicate using electronic media, e.g. mobile phones. It means ensuring that children and young people are protected from harm and supported to achieve the maximum benefit from new and developing technologies without risk to themselves or others.
We are here to protect children from harm. It can be hard to know when extreme views become something dangerous. And the signs of radicalisation aren't always obvious.
Extremism can be really difficult to spot. Signs that may indicate a child is being radicalised include:
- isolating themselves from family and friends
- talking as if from a scripted speech
- unwillingness or inability to discuss their views
- a sudden disrespectful attitude towards others
- Increased levels of anger
- Increased secretiveness, especially around internet use.
Children who are at risk of extremism may have low self-esteem, or be victims of bullying or discrimination. Extremists might target them and tell them they can be part of something special, later brainwashing them into cutting themselves off from their friends and family.
You can make the internet safer for your family by restricting access to risky sites. You can also report extremist content that you find online.
All the major Internet Service Providers (such as Sky, BT, Talk Talk and Virgin Media) offer security and parental control packages. These services let you control or block access at home to specific sites or types of content, such as chat rooms, as well as protecting your computer from viruses and other people accessing your personal data. Contact your Internet Service Provider for more information. There is a lot of advice on how you can protect your family from unsuitable content on the internet.
Information, help and advice about internet safety - Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre
Report online terrorist material - GOV.UK: Report terrorism
It’s not always easy to keep track of what your children are doing online. But every parent needs to be aware of the risks posed by the internet, which can be a platform for those seeking to sexually exploit children, as well as influencing their minds. The same tools should apply for safeguarding your child. There are simple steps you can take;
- Have a discussion with your children about what they are doing online, what Apps and programmes they use. Emphasise the importance of caution in what they are sharing and who they are friends with. Help them understand the importance of applying critical thinking to news and opinions they see online; not everything they read will be true, and not everyone they talk to will be honest about their identity.
- Consider setting up your own social media profiles, for example on Twitter or Facebook, and be friends with/follow your children.
- Be aware of who your children are friends with on Facebook and who they follow on Twitter. According to Ofcom, a worrying 1 in 3 12-15 year olds may be in contact with people they don’t know via their social networking sites.
- Keep up to date with what they post, and what others are posting on their walls. Use your instinct if something appears inappropriate or out of character.
- Many parents have voiced their concerns about the sheer amount of extremist and graphic content which is readily available online from a simple search. If you are worried that your child may have seen something troubling, you can check their internet history- it is fairly easy to see what pages they have visited using their desktop computer, laptop or tablet
- You can also turn on the parental safety features that most online platforms offer, which can filter out or block harmful material. Find out how to do this here
If you see something that worries you-– talk to your child.
The internet can be a dangerous place for children. The increasing connectivity of today’s society makes it inevitable that children will go online—it is where they study, where they play and where they connect with friends. Children can and do all sorts of amazing things online, the internet after all is creative, fun and educational. But the ubiquity of the internet doesn’t mean it’s a safe place for kids.
Be clear what your child can and can not do online – where they can use the internet, how much time they can spend online, the sites they can visit and the type of information they can share. Agree with your child when they can have a mobile phone or tablet.
The best way to find out what your child is doing online is to ask them to tell you about what they do and what sites they like to visit. If they are happy to, ask them to show you. Talk to them about being a good friend online.
Put yourself in control
Install parental controls on your home broadband and any internet-enabled devices. Set up a user account for your child on the main device they use and make sure other accounts in the household are password-protected so that younger children can’t access them by accident.
Use airplane mode
Use airplane mode on your devices when your child is using them so they can’t make any unapproved purchases or interact with anyone online without your knowledge.
Encourage them to use their tech devices in a communal area like the lounge or kitchen so you can keep an eye on how they’re using the internet and also share in their enjoyment.
Talk to siblings
It’s also a good idea to talk to any older children about what they’re doing online and what they show to younger children. Encourage them to be responsible and help keep their younger siblings safe.
Use safe search engines such as Swiggle or Kids-search. You can save time by adding these to your ‘Favourites’. Safe search settings can also be activated on Google and other search engines, as well as YouTube.
Check if it’s suitable
The age ratings that come with games, apps, films and social networks are a good guide to whether they’re suitable for your child. For example, the minimum age limit is 13 for several social networking sites, including Facebook and Instagram. Although sites aimed at under-10s like Moshi Monsters and Roblox also have social networking elements
For more information about being safe online: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/
Most popular social media services don’t allow anyone under 13 to join. Even so, lots of younger children manage to set up accounts. It’s hard to get reliable information on just how many underage users are on social media, but Ofcom estimate that half of UK 6 -11-year-olds have access to their own accounts.
The UK has a strict law that you need to be 13 years of age in order to sign up for social media accounts. Giving false information in order to create an account is a violation of these laws and can result in prosecution against the individual.
You can report underage accounts using this form. Facebook’s policy is to delete accounts if there is proof that the account holder is under 13. They won’t be able to take action if they can’t be sure of the child’s age.
Many parents say Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms with young children. You don’t have to be over a certain age to look at photos posted publicly on Instagram, but if you want to make your own account, the age limit is 13+. You can report underage Instagram accounts here.
If you are concerned about a person using Snapchat who is under 13, you can report the person by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can report underage accounts using this form by selecting the option "I want to report an underage person's account".
If you learn that your child under the age of 13 has registered for a TikTok account, you may alert them at email@example.com. They will promptly take appropriate action.