Parenting online: Know your child

In a digital era it is vital parents and carers take an active role in educating their children to stay safe online.

It is important children and young people understand the internet and know how to use it responsibly.

Sangeet Bhullar, family online safety expert and founder of WISE KIDS, visited parents Tommy and Tracie, to give them some guidance on how to keep their youngsters safe online.

37 year-old dad Tommy describes himself as internet savvy. But he recognises that the internet and technology are always evolving and makes a concerted effort to stay in the loop.

While mum Tracie uses the internet for shopping and catching up with friends, and keeping up to date with the news.

Sangeet thinks it is great that both parents are involved in how their children use the internet, but has some good advice for staying safe online.

Ben, 10 - online gamer

Tracie and Tommy's son, 10 year-old Ben, like many young boys loves playing on his games console.

Ben connects with other gamers online Ben connects with other gamers online

New games consoles, like Ben's, gives him the option to play online against friends and other gamers. Sangeet recommends that parents make rules so their children remain safe online. For example, only playing online games with people you already know.

Ben enjoys watching videos of others playing his favourite games on YouTube. There are a number of YouTube stars that Ben follows.

Sangeet thinks it is great that dad, Tommy has made time to familiarise himself with the YouTube stars Ben follows. This means Tommy is able to understand Ben's desire to follow his gaming heroes but make sure that his son is aware that not everyone online is who they say they are.

Sangeet's big tip for families is to keep an open channel of communication with your children, so if they have concerns they will share them with you. And like Tommy has done, get to know the sites and services your children are engaging with.

By talking you can educate your children and stay informed. Children need help in learning when an interaction online is inappropriate.

Rachel, 15 - social bee

Rachel records her guitar playing using a webcam Rachel records her guitar playing using a webcam

Like most teenagers Rachel uploads photographs and videos to Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.

She advises Tommy and Tracie that for a child of around Rachel's age (14 to 15), talking to strangers need not be dangerous in itself. However it's essential that young people have the confidence to raise any worries they may have about inappropriate behaviour with their parents.

She suggests to Rachel that she needs to be aware, however unlikely the possibility, that there are some people who pretend to be someone else online and who are best avoided. Sangeet has some important advice for teenagers and their parents about starting friendships online.

  • Never meet someone on your own.
  • If you are going to meet, go in a group and meet in a public place.
  • While lots of people are genuine, a tiny minority may not be who they say they are.

With advice from Sangeet, Tommy and Tracie now have the tools to keep their family safe online.

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