New technology is transforming our world. Computers, the internet, and mobile phones are now such a part of everyday life that it is hard to imagine how we coped without them.
However, technology is not all positive, and an awareness of the downsides and risks is essential. As a parent you should be aware of the dangers, so you can monitor, support and advise your children. It is impossible and possibly unreasonable to stop your child from accessing technologies, but it is important that you discuss with them what the dangers are, and help them to understand the risks.
This page contains some key information you should be aware of, and provides links to other sites that give more detailed information.
The Internet is a fantastic source of information for all ages. However, there is information on the Internet that is unsuitable for young people, or that is misleading or inaccurate. Some sites are constructed by fraudsters and criminal gangs, that either try to extract personal information or install malicious software on your machine without your knowledge. Certain sites can expose exposed to video footage that might not be age appropriate. Users can also leave comments about videos that could contain unsuitable language.
Please consider the following:
Cyberbullying is bullying using digital technologies like mobile phones and computers. This is just as upsetting as physical bullying, and in some ways worse, because the victim can be bullied in their own home, and can never escape from the bully.
The most used social networking sites include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Whilst they can be a good way to keep in touch with friends and family, there are an increasing number of distressing incidents occurring on these sites.
One issue is the number of people that children will 'friend' on these sites. Often children become competitive with the number of 'friends' they have. This means they will sometimes friend people they don't know very well and this can leave them open to exploitation.
Finally, most of these sites invite the users to record lots of information about themselves, including home address, phone number, age etc. The privacy settings can be very complicated, and getting them wrong can mean that information can be seen by anyone at all - not just friends or family. The companies that produce these sites have on occasion changed the settings so information is made public on all accounts unless you tell them otherwise.
The most serious risk for children as a result of technology is through exploitation. The Internet can provide anonymity for those who will exploit vulnerable children. The UK Police have set up an organisation called Child Exploitation Online Protection - CEOP to educate children and their parents as to the dangers posed by predators on the Internet.
ThinkUKnow – a website created by CEOP aimed at young people and provides information about how to stay safe online.
NetSmartz – the teens sector gives real life stories told by teenagers who have been victims of internet exploitation.
Know It All – helps students look at how they use technology and the dangers that may arise
Bullying Online – has a section covering cyberbullying with advice on how to stay safe
Kidsmart- targeted at children aged 11+ and includes games and competitions