A number of e-Safety principles apply to all platforms and age groups and we hope you can use this list as a reference point.
It's important to remember that for the most part, the Internet and all the services and applications it provides for us is a wonderful resource and an essential part of life for many, young and old. Just like in the physical world, bad things can happen online, but the Internet is also a platform that provides the opportunity for lots of good things to happen too.
Understanding the Individual's Responsibilities
For most adults, little time will be spent considering the appropriateness of a social network or other web service for them as an individual. Where children are concerned, it is important for parents and carers to remember that most social websites suggest or require that users meet specific age related criteria before signing up. For many social websites, the minimum registration age is 13 years, largely due to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires that websites are not permitted to collect data on children below this age.
For children, considerable peer pressure may exist with friends encouraging them to sign up to services that their older siblings or parents may also use. We encourage parents to support the guidelines already set out by social websites and only allow their children to sign up and use age restricted services when they reach an appropriate age. Doing this sets the right precedent for further online services and also helps to ensure that children using the Internet and social tools are only exposed to content that is appropriate for their age group and following the same principle you might already follow with regard to television, films and computer games. Age restrictions are provided for a good reason, and they provide parents and carers with a straightforward reference point for assessing the appropriateness of content.
Talk about your online experiences with trusted people
Having a conversation about your online experiences (good and bad) is an important first step for parents and children in being able to confidently deal with a variety of situations. This may be in the positive form - perhaps a helpful YouTube video you have made that has made your child well known for a time. This might also be negative, perhaps a video in which your child features unwillingly or portrays them in a negative way. For a child, conversations about these experiences should always take place with a trusted adult.
The trusted person might be a best friend, a parent or a carer - in some situations, it may be neither of these. Whoever it is, they must be someone who has good judgement and is able to offer clear and unbiased support. It is therefore important and valuable for a child to understand some of the concepts we covered earlier in this guide in order to establish who they think would be a trusted person.
Behave like a responsible digital citizen
Whenever we are online, it's important that we conduct ourselves as responsible digital citizens - just as we do in the real world, being polite, responsible, helpful and looking out for our friends. Children will see your online actions as a model for their own behaviour, whether you are a parent, carer or other responsible adult.
Carefully manage online profiles
Your identity online should be carefully managed so that anyone you connect with has an open and honest representation of you. For children, this is even more important for their own safety and wellbeing. Children should only publish information online that they are comfortable sharing and do so with the guidance of a responsible adult. You can use real world examples and role play to help a child consider how much information they might share with a stranger they meet in the street. Would they (and you) feel comfortable sharing the same information with that stranger online?
Block and Ignore (and tell someone too)
Many social networks and safety advisors will recommend that when necessary, you block social network connections if they are annoying or abusive towards you - or maybe you just don't want to engage with them. This is the best first step to dealing with abusive behaviour online and most social networks allow you to block specific users. If you have already adjusted your online profile(s) so that only people you know can connect with you, the likelihood of needing to block a user is greatly reduced. Knowing how to block content from individuals is just as important for children - if not independently, then with the help of a trusted adult.
Don't stop with blocking though - make sure your child knows that they should also have a conversation with a trusted individual about the experience. What happened? How did it make them feel? As an adult, you may be able to help by informing others who can provide further help, particularly if the online behaviour is a reflection of behaviours taking place elsewhere, such as in the playground or outside of school.
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