As a mum to two young boys, Oliver, 7 and Xander, 4, one of my greatest concerns is keeping my kids safe online. Whilst the internet is a wondrous place to learn and play (my boys are catching Pokemon in the pictures in the park here), enjoying a small part of their life via their tablets can pose great risks too.
Child grooming is a real threat as is downloading inappropriate content. We as parents, need to be fully informed on how to protect our kids so they can enjoy being online
I get it, we live in a digital world – my whole business model is based online – so imposing an internet block on my kids is frankly, unrealistic and unhelpful.
Both Peter and I have digital-based careers and want our own kids to develop IT skills so they can thrive in this information age. Safety though, is our number one concern.
When I was a child, I was warned on a daily basis not to take sweets from strangers or speak to anyone I didn’t know. It was drummed in to myself, my brother and every child in the country, from an early age. Today, however life online feels far more complicated in many ways.
As well as online grooming, an innocent spelling mistake or unconsidered search term can result in unfavourable content reaching your child, with damaging effects. Innocent searches can lead to not so innocent results.
Research shows that as internet users, are just as likely to find pornography accidentally as we are deliberately and worryingly, Childline has seen a 60% year on year increase in counselling sessions with children left worried after seeing porn online.
What can we do about it?
The reality is, we can’t wrap our kids up in cotton wool (believe me, I would if I could), protecting them 100% of the time but we can discuss the risks in a calm way along with implementing parental controls on all devices.
I’ve partnered with the NSPCC to raise awareness of the importance of parental controls so all families can feel informed and empowered about their child’s safety online.
Research by Ofcom shows that a significant number of parents believe simply talking to their kids about the dangers of online is enough and that parental controls are not unnecessary, but this simply isn’t the case.
Regular conversations MUST be combined with parental controls. Parental controls can be used to block upsetting or harmful content, control in-app purchases and manage how long your child spends online.
We never give out passwords, keep security settings as high as possible. We inform our kids not to connect with anyone online, we don’t allow them to publish or use public platforms and we monitor use.
…With lots of kids receiving smart devices for Christmas, the NSPCC has teamed up with the tech gurus at O2 to provide all parents with advice and technical support. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an O2 customer or not, this vital service is open to all families and it’s completely free too!
If you’re unsure how to start the conversation or how to use parental control, then discover detailed expert information by the NSPCC here.
The NSPPC and O2 are also currently running workshops across the country to help you understand parental controls better, or alternatively you can call their hotline (0800 800 5002) or even book a one-on-one consultation with an 02 guru at one of their many stores nationwide. How fab is that? Just click the link here to book.
Please don’t leave this to another time and you never get round to it. Make sure you find out how to protect your kids so you can put safety measures into place, today.
As a UK charity, almost 90% of NSPCC’s funding is from generous people like you who care about the safety of children. If you’ve found this advice useful and would like to support the NSPCC with a donation, you can do so here.
This is a commissioned post but these are, as always my honest thoughts and opinions.