Keep your child safe online
With digital technology now at the fingertips of even our youngest children, we need to be observant and aware at all times.
Communications programs and 'apps' are now available on most devices, and unfortunately this stocks the pond for Paedophiles.
As parent's we need to become aware of the techniques and scams used by predators so that we may spot them.
There are also many other dangers present with the use of social communications, online bullying and the so called 'Challenges' that encourage our children to self-harm and even commit suicide.
We like to think our children are wise enough and trust them, we may not like to invade their privacy by looking at their devices, but even the most savvy children can be caught out and led astray.
Ensure your child is supervised when using any form of social media and chat software, and where possible use a safety program such as 'Net Nanny' to control what they can access on the web. Check on them often and do check their devices.
In this section we try to create awareness of the dangers, show parents what is really going on with these innocent looking games and programs and make sure that you keep your child safe.
Computers, Tablets, Mobile Phones, Our children love to use them and as parents it can often be a way to get a welcome break, but we must be very careful that we do not let these devices become a 'Surrogate Nanny'.
Given the chance our children will use them endlessly, the whole use of technology can be very addictive, but it can come with irreversible effects.
Contantly viewing a small screen at very close range for hours on end, can lead to irreversible damage of their eyesight, it can also promote headaches.
Those that use headphones or ear-buds to listen to these devices are also very much at risk from 'Noise Induced Deafness' (NID), Children do like to have the sound far too loud, and this constant sound can cause the eardrum and inner ear to stiffen and become ineffective over time. Once our hearing is gone, then it gone for life - No hearing aid can ever put it back!
Earbuds if not frequently cleaned and sterilized, can also lead to inner ear infections wich again can damage the inner workings of the ear beyond repair. It is important to clean them daily!
What is far less understood is the effect so much online time can have on a childs development, young children and infants can find repetative things safe and comforting, thats why they will watch the same thing over and over again. If they are constantly allowed to transfix themselves on a screen then this can have a 'Tunnel Vision' effect on their growth and mental development.
It can affect older children too, the repetitiveness of games can lead the child to lose touch with reality, believing what they see to be 'Real' or the 'Norm'.
It is important that we control Screen Time for our children, even to the point of taking the device away at bedtime, they may go through the motions of turning the device off, only to restart it as soon as you walk out of their room, or use it under the bedcovers out of sight. This can have damaging effect on their health, and cause excessive tiredness, which in turn can affect mood swings, behaviours and learning abilities.
Children and many adults to enjoy playing computer or video games, they can lose hours engrossed in the latest shoot-em-up or fantasy world, but when does simple enjoyment become something more serious?
Video Game Addicition is a real thing, it can be hard to spot and identify, but can have some very serious effects, from eyesight damage to sleep deprivation, it can restrict developmental growth, mood swings, and behaviour issues, sometimes leading to violence and aggression in and out of the home.
For more information visit the report by 'Gaming Verdict' below.
Unfortunately online grooming is far more prominent than we think it is, maybe we just do not see it as we hope it doesnt exist, but our children are at risk, boys and girls and those of all age groupsm and as parents and carer's we must make ourselves alert and knowledgable, able to immediately spot it occuring, and even better to prevent it in the first place.
ONLINE SITES ARE NOT AS INNOCENT OR AS SAFE AS WE HOPE THEY ARE !
Follow the link below and read what one parent found when she spent seven days online pretending to be an eleven year old.
A ten year old girl was sent this message on her phone when using the Amino Chat system.
She was asked to verify her age and gender on a children's casrtoon app called Amino, requesting that she send a photo of her bare chest. The message told the young girl this was a 'Safe Place for girls under 14' and needed to send a topless photiograph to prove she met the guidelines or else she would be permanently banned.
Luckily the girl's mother had previously discussed safety when using her phone and she showed it to her. This shows the importance of explaining the risks to your children, and also jst how easy it is for predators to gain access to these phone applications.
For Social Media Platforms
Most internet chat sites have set age restrictions however these age limits are not always observed and easily bypassed by our children, the site owners or moderators do not effectively check or police their use.
Keep a regular watch on what sites your child uses on their digital devices and make sure that they are age appropriate, and frequently check that they are not the subject to online grooming or any form of abuse.
Snapchat, Kik, Whatsapp, to many parents these are just names they hear the kids talking about, they have no idea what they are or what they do. They have no knowledge of the vast number of socal media programs that are easily available to children and often free to use.
They may sound as if they are just games, but these programs are far from being the games like space invaders from our childhood, these can place our children at very high risk!
Talk to your children whatever their age, find out what programs they are actually using on their devices, make yourself aware of what these programs do and the dangers they contain.
With credit to 'National Online Safety' who have given permission to use their factsheets, below are links to information on some of the various programs currently around, but remember to check back often as new programs and threats appear and change frequently.
This website by CyberGhost has a lot of useful information and safety tips to help keep your children safe.
Make sure that you protect your children from inappropriate videos on YouTube.
PARENTS GUIDES AND TRAINING.
National Online Safety have prepared dozens of FREE informative guides for parents showing the dangers of many aspects of children using computers, games machines, phones and being online.
New social media applications seem to appear almost overnight, many are free to download and use without requiring parental consent.
Check out ALL the applications, games and software that your child is currently using, and use this as a trusted resource to check out the next game or application that they want to download and use.
Check back regularly, as these games often change and adapt, ways are found to bypass security which can leave your children at risk. What is OK today, might be NOT OK tomorrow!
EXAMPLES OF SOME OF THE GUIDES AVAILABLE FOR PARENTS EXPLAINING SOCIAL MEDIA, CHAT AND GAMES CHAT APPLICATION SOFTWARE.
Visit the NOS site link above to download your free guides.
During the Coronavirus Lockdown, use of new social media communication applications has suddenly exploded, however they do have some associated risks.
Find out all about Zoom before you allow your children on it.
Always supervise its use !
You can download the guide shown below.
There are many quiz style posts that do the rounds on Facebook, they may seem fun or pass a few minutes here and there, but they have an underlying purpose, to obtain your information!. Who creates them?, after all they do not show any advertising, and are not linked to any group or individual, they just regularly appear, changing their guise around specific holidays such as Halloween Easter and Christmas.
'They must be safe as my friend has completed it!' - Did they? or was it someone pretending to be them. Did they think the same when they completed the quiz before sending it to you?. THESE QUIZZES ARE FAR FROM SAFE !
Just clicking on them adds your name and email address to junk mail lists that are then sold on to others, thats most probably where most of your junk mail comes from. The information you unwittingly give when completing the quiz is stored, added together with information from other quizzes or games, building up a picture of your idendity that can then be used to hack accounts, use your finance details to order goods.
Take a look at the article below.
DONT DO THESE QUIZZES, AND DO NOT SEND THEM ON TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY
JUST WHO IS LISTENING IN ?
Always be aware of what information your child stores on their mobile. Never let them keep personal or banking details on their handsets.
Phone hacking is far too easy,. but It's not just the Hacker's who are able to listen in or access your data, watch the video to know more.
Credit to: Cyberwise
Credit to: Jake Lewis
Credit to: nihvcast
Credit to: Hampton Primary School
Not all chat programs are bad, but some are open to abuse, and some seem to promote bullying.
Check what your child is using!
The National Online Safety have guides for most of the popular chat programs including:-
Facebook; Facebook Messenger; Twitter; Youtube; Instagram; Roblox; Periscope; Minecraft; Kik; Yubo; Omegle; Live.me; Dubsmash; Musical.ly; Tumblr; Groupme; Steam; Discord.
Facebook & Youtube
Children of all ages enjoy using Facebook and Youtube, there are set age restrictions ( 13 years ) but children under that age can easily gain access, and both systems can display adult related content.
Google have produced an alternative Youtube package ( Youtube Kids ) which is available for phones TV's and computers, it has a simplified interface and uses strong filters to deny access to videos that are unsuitable for children. It is advised to ensure your children use this version, although it is not completely foolproof it is much safer than using the standard version.
With Netflix it is possible to setup a children's profile which should prevent access to films with adult content, but this is not unfallable and depends on the accuracy of the films ratings.
There are now many browsers available ( Edge; Internet Explorer; Chrome; Opera; Firefox etc.) all using powerful search engines to retrieve information from the internet. Access to pornography is as simple as typing a keyword such as 'sex' into the browser. If you can understand and work them out then these do have 'Settings' that can partly restrict what can be accessed, however these are easily turned back on, and as you know children seem to have a far better understanding of the devices workings than most of us do.
Google have now created a safer browser search engine for children called 'Kiddle' (see link below), Words such as 'sex' or 'porn' are blocked from use, if this is set to replace the default search engine it will reduce the risks to our children.
There are specialised programs available that will help you limit what your child can access, NetNanny ; Parentshield; Familyshield and Questodio are just a few of many, some of these are one off purchases and others subscription based.
Unfortunately there is only one way to be completely safe, and this is not always acheivable, that is to sit with your children and continuously supervise them when using all technology devices. The best we can do is to check on a regular basis, learn how and look back at the 'History', and to do random 'spot checks' when not expected.
Some of these applications are used to circulate dangerous trends, challenges that place our children in extreme danger and which have even been known to take a life.
Below are some additional warnings and more information regarding the dangers from a few of the typical chat applications frequently used by our children.
An investigation found that children as young as eight years old are being targeted by predators using this new social media App. Although new to the scene the App already has more users than Snapchat and growing fast.
When you sign up to the platform, it encourages users to post videos of themselves which are then freely broadcast to other Tiktok users, this enables direct messaging from others including predators.
The Sun newspaper got investigators to sign up to the App, within minutes they found disturbing messages being posted underneath the young school children's videos. The parent of a 10 year old boy told them how shocked they were by what he found on his terrified son's phone. He said :-
"His phone kept flashing up like someone had messaged. I kept seeing this same man’s name coming up.
The messages he received said ‘hello are you there?’, ‘stop f***ing ignoring me’, then he said ‘I will find you’, ‘where are you?".
It is not just online chat programs that can put our children at risk, some video games have voice chat ability built in. And with no age policing these can be a predatory minefield.
Follow the link to the Safeguarding Training Centre and Download the parent factsheet.
IF YOU SEE THIS IMAGE ON YOUR CHILDREN'S PHONE OR COMPUTER OR HEAR THEM TALKING ABOUT MOMO, THEN TAKE NOTE AND HEAR THE WARNING BELLS !
It is important that we regularly check our chilidren's phones and internet devices to make sure they are not being groomed or abused, and also for dangerous 'Challenges' such as 'Blue Whale' which encouraged self-harm. But now there is another, it is called the 'Momo Challenge', and it is encouraging kids to first self-harm and then progresses to push children into taking their own life.
The "Momo Challenge" is a form of cyberbullying that spreads through social media and cell phones. After phone users are enticed to contact a user named "Momo", they receive graphic threats from the user and are instructed to perform a series of dangerous tasks.
The NSPCC have issued warnings after the sudden rise of the challenge, which sees a creepy woman with straggly hair, protruding eyes and a devil grin called 'Momo' entice kids to contact her through social media, then starts sending them graphic images and instructions to harm themselves and others, or she will “curse them”. It has already caused one death in Argentina.
One mum, who asked not to be identified, wrote online that she was "deeply alarmed" when her seven-year-old son's school teacher told her that he had made threats to other children in the school. "When I collected him from school the teacher asked to talk to me. She said he had made three kids cry by telling them that 'Momo was going to go into their room at night and kill them'. When we got home I spoke to him about this and he told me that some kids at school had told him to look at the 'Momo challenge' which he did. When he watched the video challenge the ‘Momo' character told him to tell everyone to fear Momo or it will kill him in his sleep. So I have one very frightened little boy and some deep concerns about the kids in his school.
WATCH THE VIDEOS BELOW THEN BLOCK THE MOMO NUMBER ON YOUR CHILDREN'S PHONES
Credit to: TheNightOwl1212
The attached video is of the text used by a predator.
They purposely left a phone near a school, hoping a child would pick it up and respond and lay in wait nearby in a van.
Credit to: Cyberwise