There are always ways you can help protect your child on-line and ensure that the internet is a safe space to learn and have fun.
One way to do this is to install parental controls on your computer or any smartphones. This will block your child from accessing sexually explicit content. Discuss this with your internet service provider (ISP) or a computer specialist. This will not provide a total safeguard, but it will offer some protection.
You can also set up a VPN, or Virtual Private Network. This covers your IP address so that online predators can't find out your child's location.
You should also set up strong passwords for all accounts, to keep your child's information safe from hacking. Passwords are the strongest when they are a long combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
Set rules and boundaries
It is important to learn all you can about the internet. We teach our children about stranger danger in life, and the same should apply to online.
- warn your child about internet dangers and lay down some ground rules about the time they spend online
- this can include how long they are on the internet, what device they use, and what sites they are visiting
- make sure you always have access to their computer, or are able to supervise their time online
- warn them to never arrange to meet someone they met online; if they must, a trusted adult should be present
- watch out for possible signs of exploitation or abuse or changes in your child’s mood or behaviour, such as
- sleep disturbances or bedwetting
- unexplained marks or bruises or self harm
- problems at school
- going missing
- asking about sexual experiences and using adult terminology
- evidence of pornographic material
- be especially aware of any new friendships between your child and older people, whether male or female.
If your child does experience some form of exploitation, whether mild or severe, it is crucial to be 100% supportive. Make it clear that it is not their fault and that you are there to help and protect them no matter what.