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Going it alone – how to equip your child for unsupervised internet use by Angela Rees

The internet is an amazing place for learning, creating, playing and socialising for the whole family. You wouldn't let your kids play outside unaccompanied unless you were confident they could cross the road safely and not talk to strangers and the same applies to the internet. We all want online experiences to be positive so here's a green cross code for unsupervised internet use.

For parents

Turn on the parental controls by logging in to your internet provider and opting in to the safety options.

  • Turn safe search on for Google by going to www.google.com/preferences and clicking "filter explicit results".
  • Remember to do this on all computers, mobiles and tablets your child has access to.
  • Reassure children that they can talk to you about anything they are worried about.
  • Talk to your child about being a responsible digital citizen – they should take care of themselves and take care of other people.
  • Set a good example by being a responsible digital citizen yourself.
  • Check out www.cyberstreetwise.com for hints and tips about staying safe online.

For children

  • Don't give out personal information like your name, address, phone number or email address.
  • Use an alias to make it harder for people you don't know to find you.
  • If you set up a social network account (like facebook) make sure that all your settings are private or only shared with friends.
  • Use the "view as public" features to check what you are sharing with everyone.
  • Only post information and photographs online that you would happily share with your grandparents, neighbours and teachers.
  • Use a search engine to search yourself and check what information you are sharing.
  • Use www.safesearchkids.com to search the internet safely.
  • Be responsible for other people's on-line experience – don't post things which could upset anyone or hurt their feelings.
  • Remember that things you put on the internet can stay there for ever, every time you post content you create a digital footprint, other people will use this information to judge who you are.
  • Remember that if you share a photograph it's hard to stop other people from re-sharing it.
  • Don't give out passwords.
  • Make your passwords strong by using numbers and a mixture of capital and lower case characters.
  • Don't use the same password for every site.
  • Don't meet up with anyone you have met online, talk to a parent or carer if anyone asks to meet you.
  • If you see or read anything which upsets you, close the page.
  • Talk to your parents or carers if you are worried about anything at all.
  • Do be creative, do ask questions, do explore and do have fun.

For more information about staying safe online check out www.kidsmart.org.uk/beingsmart/ and read through the great tips for parents and children on www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/be-a-good-digital-citizen-tips-for-teens-and-parents

If you're not sure about any techy terms, check out our jargon buster

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