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Talking to children about online safety

Top tips for starting the conversation

The internet has become a part of our daily routines; many children use it in everyday life. Lots of children may even know more about the internet than most adults!

No matter how technology-savvy they may be, it's essential to make children aware of the dangers they may face online.

The risks

As the online world grows, so does the number of risks we face when using the internet. Some of the most common worries parents and carers have about their children's internet usage are:

  • What inappropriate content they may see;

  • Who they may be speaking to;

  • What personal and sensitive information they may be sharing;

  • How they're behaving online and whether they're being respectful.

Keeping up-to-date with online safety risks may seem overwhelming, but there are many ways to teach children and young people to recognise the risks and show them about habits they should adopt when using the web.

Having regular conversations about online safety is the best tool in keeping children safe. Not only does it remind them about how they should be behaving online - but it also means that they're more likely to be comfortable coming to you if they have any worries.

Starting the conversation

We know that it can be tricky to address difficult topics - for both adults and children. It can be uncomfortable when talking about certain topics, so it's best to remain open-minded and honest to help children feel comfortable discussing any worries.

We've put together a list of conversation starters that will help you open up a discussion and better understand what the children in your care are doing online.

  1. What apps, games and websites do you use the most?

The online world is fast-paced, so the apps, games and websites children are using may change often. We recommend having regular conversations to keep up to date with how a child uses the internet.

It’s a good idea to find out if there’s any particular games, apps or websites you need to brush up on. The National Online Safety team has lots of guides and safety advice that give specific information about the apps your child may be using.

  1. Have you made any friends online?

Multiplayer games, social media and other online platforms have made it increasingly common for children to befriend someone they haven't met in person. Forming bonds with online communities and friends can be a positive experience. Still, it's important to be aware of the dangers.

Although they may be reluctant to tell you about who they're speaking to, teaching children about knowing the difference between friends and strangers is a good way to help them understand what they shouldn't be sharing.

  1. Do you know what your personal information is?

As adults, we're constantly reminded that we must not share any personal and sensitive information with anyone we do not trust to protect ourselves online.

By making sure children know what you mean by the term ‘personal information’, you can prevent them from sharing these details and help them understand the risks of doing so.

  1. Do you know where to go if you need help?

Although you may have taken all the steps to help a child feel comfortable coming to you, sometimes they may feel awkward and wish to seek help anonymously.

It's a good idea to make sure they know where they can go to get help and report any inappropriate activity that makes them feel unsafe.

We’ve listed some websites that you can use to access help below. It’s also useful to familiarise yourself with how to report inappropriate behaviour and content on individual apps and games.

Extra resources

There are lots of different resources you can use to keep up to date with what's going on in the online world. These resources can equip you with the knowledge to have those all-important conversations and give great advice about staying safe online.

The UK Safer Internet Centre, the creator of #SaferInternetDay, is full of great resources about online safety. They also have a guide specifically for foster parents on speaking to foster children about staying safe online.

Every week on #WakeUpWednesday, National Online Safety posts an easy-to-read guide. These guides provide all the information you need to know about lots of the latest apps, websites and games and how to help your child stay safe whilst using them.

Internet Matters has lots of advice categorised by age group, so you can easily filter out the most helpful information for you and the children in your care.

You’re never alone as a foster carer with Bradford Fostering, our team is always on hand to answer your questions and provide advice whenever you need it.

Book a call with our team today to find out how you can make a positive impact to the lives of children and young people in the Bradford community.

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