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12 Jul 2017

Staying safe online over the summer holidays

Young people are now spending more time online than ever before and with the summer holidays fast approaching and children’s free time increasing, it’s our responsibility to ensure that they are kept safe when using the internet.

Smoothwall recommend following these simple steps:

  1. Talk - this is a good chance for parents to get to know their child’s habits online - what websites/apps they are using, how regularly they are using them, why they enjoy them, who else is using them etc. Showing interest and having positive conversations about the internet is essential, so that if anything happened online that worried or upset your child, they would feel confident in telling you. This quiz from the UK Safer Internet Centre is a great way to see if your child can make kind choices when faced with dilemmas online. 
  2. Check virus protection - ensure that all devices have up to date software that protects against viruses and other malware.
  3. Allow access to the internet within the family space - we do not recommend that children have access to devices in individual bedrooms.
  4. Use Safe searching - most search engines, including Google and Youtube, have a safe search facility under the settings menu which can be enabled to prevent access to inappropriate material.
  5. Enable privacy settings on websites and apps - it’s important that all social media accounts and apps are set to the highest privacy settings to prevent unknown people from viewing or contacting the user. Often the default setting for these types of accounts is public, meaning that everyone can see content including pictures and videos.
  6. Consider using Parental Controls on devices - parental controls can be applied to devices including laptops, smartphones and games consoles, and can limit the time the device can be used, whether apps/games can be downloaded and can restrict the internet access.
  7. Disable the geolocation settings on all devices - when you post an image to social media, you might be posting your exact location via the default ‘geotagging’ data. Disable your phone’s geolocation feature by going into your location settings and don’t proactively tag your location.

Finding a balance

Without the structure of the school day and due to wide accessibility of the internet, children may end up spending a lot of time online. It’s vital that they know when to take a break and start a new activity.

For example they might start experiencing tired eyes, headaches, interrupted sleep or mood swings. Setting time limits and offering alternative activities to being online are good starting points.

Keeping in touch online

During the holidays, young people may want to keep in touch with their friends through social networking sites or games.

It’s important they understand that they must be 13 years or older to legally use social media sites. It’s essential that they know to only talk to people they actually know and to never share personal details with anyone.

Sharing holiday photos

Some young people may want to share photos and videos of what they are getting up to, but it’s very easy for them to end up in the wrong hands.

It’s important that everyone is aware of what types of photos are appropriate to share and who they should be shared with as they can hold personal information.

For example, sharing a photo of your friends playing in your street can give away your age and location.

Getting active with apps

The summer holidays are a great chance for children to get active and make the most of the nice weather. There are some great apps available that can encourage whole families to get active.

The majority of smartphones now come with preinstalled fitness trackers, so why not set the family a daily walking challenge? It’s a great opportunity to spend time together doing something active, online and fun!

If you have anymore questions of how you can stay safe online this summer, please get in touch.

Alternatively, you can visit our new Online Safety Zone for up to date advice and resources, and if you want to find out more specifically about using Snapchat’s new Snap Map feature safely, read our recent blog.

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