By the time your child joins Mayfield they may have already used the Internet in some capacity.
This may have been at home or at primary school. Staying safe online and identifying the risks early on, ensures that children use the Internet responsibly at home for the right reasons.
The Internet can be used to download media, browse for information, and communicate with friends.
It may also be used to:
- Share images and watch videos through mobile apps, such as Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube
- Use social networking, such as Twitter and Facebook
- Use message boards and forums, such as Reddit
- Chat with others through online games (games consoles using voice and video or social media platforms, such as WhatsApp and Signal)
Children will also use the Internet to access their homework. This may involve research or connecting with others to get help. Whilst the Internet has many benefits it also has many risks associated with it. As parents and carers, it is key to understand and communicate these to help keep children safe online.
As younger people access the Internet there are greater risks from exposure to websites and other users that are not appropriate for children.
Some of these risks include:
- Downloading of illegal content
Sexting is sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs, or videos, primarily between mobile phones. It may also include the use of a computer or any digital device.
Sexting has become more common with the rise in smartphones with Internet access, as these can be used to send explicit photographs as well as messages.
If a child under the age of 18 is found in possession of any sexual images this can be recorded as a crime; meaning that if you take or share any of these types of image(s) you will be given a criminal record.
Online games such as Minecraft and Roblox
The majority of users on these games, such as Minecraft, are children, and are popularised by many YouTube videos that children watch to learn more about the game. Both Minecraft and Roblox are online and can be played with users from anywhere in the world. This makes it easier for children to talk to other users that they do not know and could be of any age.
There have been reports in which children have been asked through the in-game chat to share explicit photos of themselves. Users often build online relationships with people who they assume are of a similar age.
Playing online games opens up either spoken or written ‘in game’ chats, which allow children to interact with other users. This can lead to other users coercing children into carrying out actions that they may not wish to do but feel obligated through the pressure being applied by other users within the game.
Snapchat is a popular social media messaging app that allows you to send and receive pictures and videos (called a Snap). The pictures or videos are temporary in nature and often only allow a one-time or 24-hour view.
Sharing explicit photos are a real danger on this platform, due to the temporary nature of the image being sent. However, many mobile devices offer screen recording capabilities; images can also be recorded on another device so it is important that children are aware of, and understand, the potential dangers.
Instagram is a photo and video sharing social networking service. The app allows users to upload media that can be edited with filters and organised by hashtags and geographical tagging. Posts can be shared publicly or with pre-approved followers. Users can browse other users' content by tag and location, view trending content, like photos/videos, and follow other users to add their content to a personal feed.
There are several risks associated with Instagram being a social media platform, however, Instagram may also put children at a heightened risk of various threats commonly associated with social media, including cyberbullying, predators, scams, and being exposed to inappropriate content.
Wizz is a free social networking app that enables users to chat live online with strangers from around the world and exchange gifs, pictures, and videos. It is
intended to be a place to make online friends however it works similarly to a dating app, where you are presented with other people's profiles and can choose
to either swipe them away or swipe to start a conversation.
The risks: Once on the app, young people are able to mix with adults and can be connected if they accept each others' friend requests. Harmful content can easily be found and users can also expect to see content including swearing, sexual
content, violence, drug/substance content, and much more either on others' profiles or in chat conversations.
Please click here for a fact sheet on this app.
Below are links to websites that expand on the applications mentioned above and highlight potential risks for children.