Safer Internet Day: Louise Minchin Q&A

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Louise Minchin's Guide to Online Parental Tools

Q: How has the internet influenced your job as a journalist?

A: The internet has really changed my job, making it much easier to get instant access to information. When I first started we didn't have access to the World Wide Web, and had to rely on newspaper cuttings, newswires like Reuters and libraries to get information, which was very time consuming.

Q: How would you class the internet as a 'tool' in your work?

A: I think the internet is an incredibly useful research tool, especially on breaking news stories. It means I can get access to reliable information very quickly.

Q: Why do you think that internet safety is an important issue?

A: I think it is important especially for children, as if you don't take care you can come into contact with people who may pretend to be your friend but mean you harm. Also, if you can easily share too much information about yourself, that is then available for billions of people to use.

I also have safety concerns because if you aren't careful you can get access to things that can frighten and harm you without meaning to.

Q: What internet safety risks do you know about?

A: My biggest concern as a journalist about internet safety is the integrity of the information that I am using. I take care to use trusted websites like the BBC News website, and sources that I know.

Q: How safe is your internet at home?

A: On a personal level I do know about internet safety risks and take care. Because of my job there is a lot of personal information about me on the internet, and I try not to add anything that I want to keep private. I tweet but only about work and our dog, and never about my family.

Image copyright SCHOOL REPORT
Image caption The Wildern School reporting team of Adam, Lauren, Natasha and Daniel

I am not on Facebook either because I don't want people to know who my friends are.

Q: Do you use parental controls to make the internet safer for your children?

A: I think that the internet is fairly safe at home, and we use parental controls on our computers and on the TV. I have also set the parental controls on my daughter's phone so she can't get access to the internet without a password which she doesn't have.

The most effective parental control we have, is having the computer in the kitchen, so we can always see what they are looking at. We also talk to them about how they use the internet and what is safe to do.

Q: Do you believe it is a parent's responsibility to check their child's texts, Facebook account and internet access and if so how? Do you know what your children look at online?

A: I think it is important parents know what their children are doing online and on their phones. Although I feel awkward about checking texts, I do check my daughter's personal messages on her Blackberry and she knows that. She is not on Facebook but I hope she will let me keep an eye on what she is up to, when she is.

I think that trust is very important and the best thing is you talk to your child about why you are checking their online activity, and discuss things as they happen.

I do know what my children look at online, and often if they need to look things up for school I will help them do it, to make sure they are looking at safe sites.

Q: Do you believe in internet censorship?

A: I think that you can and should censor your own internet by using parental controls at home and on other devices. I also think that if you teach children how to use the internet safely then, when they grow up they can self-censor, and choose to see what they want to see. I don't think the internet can be effectively censored so it is up to us to take responsibility.

Q: Do you think Safer Internet Day is a good idea and why?

A: I think Safer Internet Day is a great idea, to make us think about how we use the internet and to use it more safely.

Q: What are your tips about staying safe online?

A: To stay safe online, my top tip would be to ask yourself before you post anything whether it is your phone number, a photo, or a even an opinion, if you would be happy to share it with a stadium full of complete strangers.

So, Share Take Care!

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites