As a Mum it really concerns me that statistics are showing there is a rise in the prevalence of online grooming, child sexual exploitation, online bullying and online radicalisation. The challenge is, what do we do about this and how do we educate our children about online safety?
Online safer Internet day is very soon (7th February 2017) which means we really do ALL have to take notice and stop putting our heads in the sand with the excuse that you don't understand technology. Throughout our lives we all learn new skills and start new jobs. We make it our responsibility to take the change and educate ourselves in those areas, but why is it with something like online safety we seem to shy away. Most of us use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but very few of us actually learn how to use them safely. Which is really crazy as we put our whole lives up there for the world to see, without a thought of who is reading it and where that information is going. Be careful with what you share and check who you are sharing information with. Try and close as much down as you possible can. If an App asks you to login in with your Facebook account details, say no. Otherwise all of your Facebook information is then shared with that company, and in most cases goes public, unless you go into the actual App and change the settings. Be careful when you are checking into places too on Facebook. A friend of mine went on holiday, checked in to say she was at Gatwick, went off on her holiday, only to return and find the garage been broken into and a very expensive bike stolen.
I do feel for schools. The DfE are now acknowledging that teachers have a responsibility to educate parents as well as children about the potential dangers that are present online. One of the reasons I created Gooseberry Parent was the fact that I know parent's struggle, and most don't even know where to start. The ones that turn up for the e-safety evening are more often than not the ones that don't actually need the help. Those that don't attend because they already think they know how to protect themselves and their children online are often more vulnerable that those who accept they have something to learn.
If there is one tip I can give you, it is to start a conversation, in the same way you would if you were talking about drugs, drink and sex. Online safety is the same. Also go and learn about your phone, there are 100's of videos on YouTube. Set boundaries. You would not let your 14 year old stay out on the streets until 2 in the morning, so don't let them play on their devices in the bedroom until late. You would not let your 5 year old cross the road on their own, but you let them play on the internet with no settings which can be equally as dangerous.
Gooseberry Planet has videos that are a step by step guide of how to change privacy settings on Youtube, Google and Facebook. Just go and do this, it will protect your child from seeing information that is not for their eyes.
Introduce Gooseberry Planet to your school, talk to your PTA. Children learn through gamification, the thing they love to do most. There is an app for parents, which is FREE of charge when a school subscribes to the programme. It is £2.50 per student per year which is a pint of beer or a glass of wine.