The internet is an amazing place. We can play, create, learn, and connect – The possibilities are endless! There are , however, unfortunately some risks that come with being online. As the Covid-19 outbreak continues to develop, people are naturally spending more time online – to get news updates, keep in touch with friends or family or to continue receiving education and support.
The reliance on social media, video chat apps and other online platforms means more young people are at risk. They will be targeted by people who are aware of the popularity of certain apps like Houseparty and will use these platforms to target children. Whilst staying connected is crucial in these testing times, it’s essential we work hard to ensure internet use is safe and children and young people remain safeguarded in these virtual spaces. Did you know the Houseparty App allows you to lock rooms so only people you invite can enter?
Covid-19 has presented a variety of additional stresses to parents and carers. Key workers still need to go out to work, whilst others are now adjusting to working and schooling from home.
Young people and children are likely to be spending more time using electronic devices and it’s likely that less time will be supervised. Unregulated access can unfortunately pose risks to children and young people who are online.
Within our services, we see online exploitation frequently endangering young people which remains a concern amidst these challenging times.
Now, more than ever, it is crucial to ensure that time spent online is safe for young people. This can be achieved by implementing parental controls on devices, as well as certain blockers on wifi routers. Talking to children about why these controls are important is a good way in engaging in this tough subject.
Whilst many workers in the UK have been required to go on Furlough Leave, the Aspire Training Team have remained supporting their learners with their training through online means. Assessors and tutors are still contactable via phone, email, and Zoom meetings, an online platform which provides a safe meeting room accessible by password and username only.
There are over 500,00 educational apps online that provide fun activities to help teach children valuable critical thinking skills. 70% of these are targeted towards pre-school children, providing countless opportunities for learning. Nowadays some apps make it all too easy for money to be spent on in-app purchases, adverts or phishing. It is a good idea to make sure that passwords are set to avoid them accidentally spending money.
There are, however, some apps out there that can be harmful to children. It is important to teach them how to use the internet safely to make them aware of the risks, even from a young age. Messaging apps such as Tellonym or YOLO allows users to have anonymous conversations and put them at risk of cyberbullying or harassment. Try encouraging safer behaviour and teach them how to spot when something isn’t right.
Phones are tablets are great resources, if screen time is monitored well. As well as games, children often enjoy watching videos. YouTube is a great way to access a variety of videos, but it is often difficult to prevent users from seeing inappropriate content. Try changing the parental controls to filter usage.
Here are a few more tips on how to stay safe online:
- Change privacy settings and parental controls on devices and in applications
- Block in-app purchases and disable one-click payment options
- Use specific apps that are made safe for children to use
- Check games and websites on Common Sense Media
- Use child friendly search engines
- Report any content that is inappropriate or offensive