Cyber bullying and trolling
As technology advances and more and more children have access to internet-enabled devices, they can become susceptible to cyber crimes including cyber bullying and trolling.
Make sure you regularly talk to your children about their online activity, and explain to them that if someone is saying, or asking them to do, something that makes them feel uncomfortable, they need to tell someone about it, whether it be a parent, a teacher, or another trusted adult.
If possible, collect evidence. You child may have nasty emails, texts, or voicemails that prove they have been bullied, which can be useful if it’s necessary for take further action against them.
Talk to your children about bullying and make sure that they know it’s not okay to be nasty to others. Just because they are joining in a conversation online rather than in the playground, it doesn’t mean that they’re not bullying.
Likewise, make sure they know to report any bullying that they witness and not to encourage it.
Self-generated indecent images, ‘sexting’ and sexual offences
In the cyber arena, children are also at risk of falling victim to serious criminal offences such as grooming.
Install parental controls on family devices and talk to your children about the risks of talking to people they don’t know online.
It is also wise to have a conversation with your children to make sure they understand that they should never take indecent images of themselves, even for their boyfriend or girlfriend, or share ones of other people.
Revenge porn offences are newly enshrined in law, and distributing any indecent image of a child is a serious sexual offence. If someone is prosecuted for sharing indecent images of children, they may be placed on the sex offenders register.
Tell your children to always tell a parent, teacher, or other trusted adult if they receive an indecent image or get asked to send one.
If you believe that someone is sending indecent images to your child, phone 101.
How to protect your child from unwanted content
- If they are using social media networks, take a look at their security settings and make sure they are set to “Friends only”. That includes comments, posts and photos.
- Make sure the people they speak to online are ones both you and they know and trust in the real world.
- Explain to them that once a photo is online, it can be easily shared with others. Tell them to only post content and photos that they wouldn’t mind sharing with their family.
- Talk to your child about the dangers of the internet and ensure they feel comfortable in talking to you about it and reporting any unwanted contact.
- Teach your children about the importance of keeping their personal information private and not to share it online. Even small pieces of information can be added together to give a good picture of someone’s life and whereabouts.
- Don’t let your children use webcam with people they do not know from the real world, and supervise webcam use if necessary.
- Delete people that make you feel uncomfortable and report suspicious or criminal activity to 101.