Are your children safe on-line?

Get Safe Online, an online safety initiative, has launched a ‘Switched on’ campaign to help you keep your children safe while using the Internet. The site also contains useful advice on Internet safety in general. .Before you talk to your child about Internet use however you might want to remind yourself of what to do and not to do.

  1. Make sure your computer has up-to-date Internet security software, switched on. Use software that protects you against spyware as well as viruses.
  2. Don’t reveal personal information on social networking sites. Remember over 1 billion people worldwide use social networking. Do you really want them all to know your phone number, where you live and work, your birthday, when you are away on holiday? This also applies to chat rooms and sites on which you may not have actually met the people you are talking to
  3. Regularly backup the data on your computer and smartphone/tablet. Although paperless records are good for the environment losing them when you don’t have backup can be very inconvenient
  4. Never reveal your password or PIN when asked to do so by email or on the phone however plausible and genuine request may be. Remember identity theft is the fastest-growing method of carrying out criminal activity. Be careful about revealing all personal details relating to your identity (for example, passport number driving licence number National Insurance number and so on).
  5. Make sure your wireless network is secure at all times.
  6. Be careful who you are selling to and buying from on auction sites.
  7. Choose strong passwords, change them regularly and don’t tell anybody what they are.
  8. When shopping, paying or banking online, always make sure the website is secure.
  9. Always download the latest software and operating system updates when prompted.
  10. Remember your smartphone is also a target for viruses and spyware


The most effective way to protect your children when they go online is to encourage them to talk about what they are doing so that it becomes a shared family experience. This might not always be possible when dealing with teenagers, so here are some more tips.


  • Stay private.  Explain to your child the importance of not disclosing personal information
  • Opt for parental settings – use the parental control settings on your browser, search engine and internet security package and block pop-ups and spam emails
  • Make sure you have activated password protection on your child’s mobile phone or tablet and include random letters and numbers to keep them strong
  • Ensure your child cannot gain access to an online shop or other website where your card details are stored
  • Encourage your child to report anything they are concerned about to you or another adult that they trust

Finally, a bit about the Internet and the law.

–       Obscene content (e.g., depicting rape or torture)

–       taking, possessing, showing, distributing, advertising, downloading and printing indecent images of children

–       grooming (where an adult uses the Internet to gain the trust of children or young people with the intention of abusing them sexually)

–       racist material

–       gambling websites which do not carry out proper checks to make sure their clients are over 18 years of age

are all illegal and should be reported to the police or the Internet Watch Foundation

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