It’s not just when your kids are out and about that you need to make sure they stay safe this summer.
With computers not only in every home, but in almost every pocket thanks to the rise in popularity of smartphones and tablets, there are potential dangers wherever you go.
However, as part of Humberisde Police’s Stay Safe Over Summer campaign, there is plenty of help and advice available for young people and their parents about how to use the web to access information, socialise and have fun without putting themselves at risk.
The internet can be used by criminals to enable them to commit a wide variety of crimes, from fraud to blackmail and sexual offences.
It has also been used by bullies to target their victims in their own homes via social media.
According to the latest national research by the NSPCC, almost 25 per cent of 11 and 12-year-olds with social networking profiles experienced something that upset them in the last year.
These included seeing inappropriate content, being contacted by strangers and bullying – as well as concerns about privacy.
Superintendent Phillip Ward, of the Force Specialist Command Team, said: “The impact on victims from all forms of cybercrime can be devastating. Prevention of cyber enabled offences, support for victims and investigation of offences we become aware of is a priority for Humberside Police.
“Incidents or offences that pose the greatest threat, risk and harm to the community are identified at the earliest opportunity and investigated by specialist trained officers and staff.
“The rise in the number of reported crimes that reference Facebook and Twitter is a reflection of the significant increase in social media use locally and nationally, year on year. Educating people and in particular children on the potential dangers of social media related offences and importantly encouraging incidents to be reported to the police when they occur is also likely to be a factor.”
“Humberside Police work closely with our partner agencies, local businesses and schools to improve public understanding of the risks faced and provide advice on what we can all do to remain safe online.”
And there are simple steps you can take to help minimise the risk.
Put the family laptop/computer in a shared room.
Limit unsupervised online access (Norton’s have a free time-limiting setting).
Use anti-virus software.
Help your children set up their email accounts and ask for their username and password (be aware that Proxy Anonymisers removes parental filters/blocks and children can download these free).
Ask your teenagers to teach you how to use what they are using.
Explore with children what is meant by personal information in order to develop an awareness of why it is special and why it should not be shared without a trusted adults’ consent.
Talk about online safety. Whilst the internet can be used to communicate positively with some friends and family, not everything on the internet is true - some content may need to be checked and evaluated with a trusted adult for validity.
Recognise that harmful adults use the internet to contact children. Meet your child’s online friends in the real world.
Advise children not to respond to abusive or obscene postings whether this is online, text messages or video messages. You can report incidents of abusive emails and inappropriate sites to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Your mobile service provider should have a number that you can ring to report abusive messaging. Try their websites for details
Safety school officers can be called on for support with cyber bullying.
Install a software or hardware firewall on your computer at home
Configure your home router to block certain Uniform Resource Locators (URL) or websites
Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to seek advice on how to implement parental control through your home router
Configure your home devices to use a web browser and securely set the parental controls and website filtering
Contact your ISP to seek advice on how to monitor and restrict the use of the wifi connection i.e. between particular times
Develop an open communication channel with your children to encourage them to discuss, report and notify you about what they have accessed online
If you have purchased a new computer, ask the provider what internet safety devices/tools are available
Ensure that your wifi connection is password protected and has a minimal security type of Wifi Protected Access 2 (WPA2)
If you have received a hyperlink via email or by other means, configure your computer and internet browsers to show the destination of the hyperlink before you ‘select’ the link
Ensure that you update the operating software on your computer and mobile devices
Ensure that your computer and mobile device have anti-virus software operating and that it is updated regularly