The internet is an amazing resource which enables children and young people to connect,
communicate and be creative in a number of different ways, on a range of devices. However,
the internet is always changing, and being able to keep up to date with your children’s use
of technology can be a challenge. You may sometimes feel that your children have better
technical skills than you do, however children and young people still need advice and
protection when it comes to managing their lives online.
Issues that your child may encounter on the internet will vary depending on their age and online
activities. We have grouped potential online risks into these 4 categories.
Children need to be aware of the impact that their online activity can have on
both themselves and other people, and the digital footprint that they create on the
internet. It’s easy to feel anonymous online and it’s important that children are aware of who
is able to view, and potentially share, the information that they may have posted. When using
the internet, it’s important to keep personal information safe and not share it with strangers.
Discuss with your child the importance of reporting inappropriate conversations, messages,
images and behaviours and how this can be done.
Some online content is not suitable for children and may be hurtful or harmful.
This is true for content accessed and viewed via social networks, online games,
blogs and websites. It’s important for children to consider the reliability of online material
and be aware that it might not be true or written with a bias. Children may need your help
as they begin to assess content in this way. There can be legal consequences for using or
downloading copyrighted content, without seeking the author’s permission.
It is important for children to realise that new friends made online may not be who
they say they are and that once a friend is added to an online account, you may be
sharing your personal information with them. Regularly reviewing friends lists and removing
unwanted contacts is a useful step. Privacy settings online may also allow you to customise
the information that each friend is able to access. If you have concerns that your child is, or
has been, the subject of inappropriate sexual contact or approach by another person, it’s
vital that you report it to the police via the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre
(www.ceop.police.uk). If your child is the victim of cyberbullying, this can also be reported
online and offl ine. Reinforce with your child the importance of telling a trusted adult straight
away if someone is bullying them or making them feel uncomfortable, or if one of their
friends is being bullied online.
Young people’s privacy and enjoyment online can sometimes be affected by
advertising and marketing schemes, which can also mean inadvertently spending
money online, for example within applications. Encourage your children to keep their
personal information private, learn how to block both pop ups and spam emails, turn off
in-app purchasing on devices where possible, and use a family email address when filling in
DC Dan Maund , a Police Cyber Security Advisor from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit, came to deliver a Cyber Security and Internet Safety awareness session to parents. Information for parents that supports good practice, and resources to help with security settings and ways to talk to children about safety online are signposted below:
In 2015, the NSPCC launched a public education campaign, called 'Share Aware', to help parents keep their children safe online. The campaign is aimed at parents and carers of children aged 8-12 – the age at which they start doing more online, become more independent and use a greater range of devices. The campaign aims to encourage parents and carers to understand online safety and to have conversations with their children about keeping safe. Having conversations from a young age can help build trust and openness and get preventative messages across. However, many parents feel confused by the internet and out of their depth in understanding what their children are doing online and what the risks might be. The Share Aware campaign aims to give parents the tools to feel confident to have these conversations. The campaign directs parents to a range of new resources, including Net Aware, a simple NSPCC guide to the social networks, sites and apps children use – as rated by parents and young people themselves. There is a downloadable guide and a hard copy booklet for parents, containing top tips for keeping your child safe online, as well 'conversation starters' to help parents with talking with their children. All these resources are available on the Share Aware page http://www.nspcc.org.uk/shareaware
If you would like to receive a copy of the booklet please contact the NSPCC.
Safe: Keep safe by being careful not to give out personal information when you’re
chatting or posting online. Personal information includes your email address,
phone number and password.
Meet: Meeting someone you have only been in touch with online can be
dangerous. Only do so with your parents’ or carers’ permission and even then
only when they can be present. Remember online friends are still strangers even if
you have been talking to them for a long time
Accepting: Accepting emails, messages, or opening fi les, images or texts from
people you don’t know or trust can lead to problems – they may contain viruses or
Reliable: Someone online might lie about who they are and information on the
internet may not be true. Always check information by looking at other websites,
in books, or with someone who knows. If you like chatting online it’s best to only
chat to your real world friends and family.
Tell: Tell a parent, carer or a trusted adult if someone, or something, makes
you feel uncomfortable or worried, or if you or someone you know is being
Protect your online reputation: use the tools provided by online services to
manage your digital footprints and ‘think before you post.’ Content posted online
can last forever and could be shared publicly by anyone.
Know where to find help: understand how to report to service providers and
use blocking and deleting tools. If something happens that upsets you online, it’s
never too late to tell someone.
Don’t give in to pressure: if you lose your inhibitions you’ve lost control; once
you’ve pressed send you can’t take it back.
Respect the law: use reliable services and know how to legally access the
music, film and TV you want.
Acknowledge your sources: use trustworthy content and remember to give
credit when using other people’s work/ideas.
Omegle is a free online chat website that pairs random strangers for live text or live video chats. There is no requirement to register and therefore users can remain anonymous. The service randomly pairs users in one-on-one chat sessions where they chat anonymously using the names "You" and "Stranger" or "Stranger 1" and "Stranger 2" in the case of Spy mode. It first launched in 2009 and its slogan is “Talk to strangers!” . Chats are rarely monitored or regulated.
It experienced a surge in popularity in the latter part of 2020, perhaps due to the pandemic and an increase in socialising online. There is an option for adult (18+) content and a section for people aged 13+ with parental permission- but there are no checks to verify age. Anyone can use the site by declaring that they are 13 and have parental permission (even if they don't) or that they are 18. The 18+ section of the site is rife with sexually explicit videos, including live stream sexual acts. Users simply go to Omegle.com and then choose ‘Text’ or ‘Video’ chat and the page states how many users are currently online. It can also be accessed via Youtube. Depending on the time of day this can be hundreds of thousands. Omegle markets itself as a great way to meet new friends but has been known to feature pornography and inappropriate content within chats. This site isn't just filled with innocent internet users looking to make friends. There have been very common instances of sexual predators, white supremacists, stalkers, and other explicit and dangerous people who use the site to prey on people. Our recommendation is that you block this site on your internet settings/ parental controls to make sure your child is not accessing this. As with any webcam based platform, there is always a possibility that footage can be recorded, and possibly distributed, with or without the user’s knowledge.