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Online Safety - Important information for parents

 

​Durham Police have again been involved in an investigation where one of our youngsters accessed potentially harmful material.  We would like to once again encourage schools to remind parents about online risks when children have unsupervised and unfiltered access to devices.  This could be sent in a newsletter or put on a social media feed.  Please feel free to use the wording below or to change it to make it more appropriate for your setting.

 

We would like to take the opportunity to remind parents about some online dangers faced by our young people.  Apps and websites can be a great tool for youngsters to find out about the world, but some areas of the internet are not always safe for children.  Our children are sometimes called “Digital Natives” - they are growing up in a world surrounded by social media, they seem very comfortable when adults are sometimes much more nervous of the technology.  Children are naive, they are still learning about the world and sometimes they can be taken advantage of by predatory adults. 

 

Durham Police have once again been involved in an investigation where primary school children may have potentially been exploited so, to try and prevent any re-occurrence, we would like to suggest the following:

 

  • parents and carers should discuss with their children their use of technology, and take the time to find out more about their children’s online life; parents should know who their children’s online friends are and what apps they are using

  • it is also worth setting parental controls, both on devices and on the home and mobile internet feeds - this is not a foolproof solution, but it does reduce the chances of children either coming into contact with inappropriate material or individuals. 

 

Advice on setting up Parental Controls is available from www.internetmatters.org by following the parental controls links.  Alternatively, the NSPCC have teamed up with O2 to provide free support on setting up controls which is available by ringing their helpline on 0808 8005002

Recommendation for the use of an app.

We recommend that registration for any app or game is completed with a parent/carer so that they are able to ensure information is completed accurately and security settings are appropriate and at their highest. The date of birth/ age can determine the access a user has to different facilities/games within a site.

Roblox app – safety concern raised.

‘Roblox’ is quickly becoming popular with children and young people. We have concerns about some potential risks to this application. Please be aware of an open chat room facility in the games. This is a site recommended for ages 8-18, but can of course be used by anyone. There have been some reviews by parents published on Common Sense Media that have highlighted additional concerns. We would advise that use of this game and specifically the chat rooms/friend requests should be monitored closely by parents and carers.

YouNow – safety concern raised.

YouNow is a fairly new app that allows users over the age of 13 to stream live video and receive comments from viewers. Broadcasters (the children using the app) are encouraged to become popular and to create content that will attract more viewers. There is also a system for buying a currency to virtually tip broadcasters. Videos created could be copied and stored. Durham Police have been made aware as a result of an ongoing case that paedophiles may be encouraging children to expose themselves, and are then involved in swopping the images generated.

Further advice is available at http://parentinfo.org/article/a-parents-guide-to-younow . Parents of primary aged children will want to ensure that their children do not have access to this app and that older children are aware of the possible dangers.

YouTube – safety concern raised

Risks involving the Uploading of Video. Many children spend a lot of time watching vloggers (Video Log) such as Zoella. (Zoella can have over 3 million hits on her uploads!)

Some children chose to emulate these Vloggers, and in doing so without careful thought can leave themselves open to bullying or online grooming by revealing personal details and making videos and comments available to anyone.

This is not illegal although the minimum age to create a Youtube account is 13. Having an account for a younger child breaks the terms and conditions of the site. It is not possible to upload videos without creating an account.

The following link provides additional information for parents and carers -

https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2802272?hl=en-GB&ref_topic=2803240

 

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