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.
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.
GUIDES FOR PARENTS EXPLAINING SOCIAL MEDIA AND CHAT SOFTWARE
Click to view
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
Credit to: Common Sense Media
Credit to: PBS Parents