While lockdown continues and schools remain closed for a while longer, it’s likely that children and young people will be spending more time online. It’s important that their online activity does not place them at risk from exploitation and grooming, but parents often find it difficult to know or understand what their children do online compared to their own activity. Here’s some useful guidance from The Lucy Faithfull Foundation’s Parents Protect Project.

Children regularly use different websites and apps from their parents, and it can be hard to keep up in this ever-changing digital world. But the things that help keep children safe online are often similar to the things that keep them safe offline.

Talk about what they think is normal online and what behaviour to expect from others and from themselves. Encourage them to think critically and question what they see online. Talk to them about where they go to get the information they trust, talk about fake news, fake followers and scams. Help them develop a healthy suspicion of whether people are who they say they are.

Share your knowledge and experience of relationships. For example, sometimes people seem nice at first and then they turn out to be mean. Let them know that you know this, they can talk to you about it. And that you won’t panic or punish them if they do. Show them how to report any worrying behaviour they see online – for example through Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command or the Internet Watch Foundation.

We are helping prepare our children for their futures if we help them go online safely and responsibly. Many people worry about amounts of screen time, but there can be lots of positives about what your child is doing online – entertainment, keeping in touch with friends and researching homework – so quality screen time is what’s important.

Check out the Parents Protect website for more information and resources at – https://www.parentsprotect.co.uk/

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