As children and young people turn to a wealth of digital resources for learning, exercising and socialising during self-isolation, parents and carers are asked to make sure they stay safe online.
With families and children spending more time online during lockdown, North Yorkshire’s Safeguarding Children Partnership (NYSCP) says now is a good time to make sure children can navigate the online world safely.
The partnership - made up of North Yorkshire’s three safeguarding bodies; North Yorkshire County Council, North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire’s Clinical Commissioning Groups - has a website with information for parents or carers. It contains links to national organisations who have developed practical advice and resources for parents and carers, including the NSPCC, Childnet International and Thinkuknow, which provide helpful advice and tools parents and carers can use. The information covered includes how to have a conversation with your child about online safety; an introduction to different social media platforms and the risks they may pose and controls that can be put in place. It also includes how to place parental controls on gaming devices, tablets and other digital devices; setting ground rules for internet and gaming use and a guide to video sharing, video chat and live streaming. Stuart Carlton, Corporate Director for the Children and Young People’s Service said: “The internet is mainly a positive influence in children and young people’s lives and opens doors to so many different forms of learning and interaction. Unfortunately, there will always be people who will use the internet to exploit and abuse young people. “With the extended amount of time children will be spending online during the coronavirus pandemic, we would urge parents to take the time to help children manage their time online safely. Take advantage of parental controls on many social media sites, games consoles, or other devices they may be using. “If parents or carers have been intending to go on their child’s PlayStation or Xbox to prevent access to age-restricted games, online purchases or video chat with unknown users online – now is a good time to do it.
“We would urge people to take a look at the online advice and information and use it to support your child to use the internet safely, responsibly and positively.”
Detective Sergeant Lee Allenby, of North Yorkshire Police’s Online Abuse & Exploitation Team, said: “Alongside the considerable challenge to maintain their education away from the classroom and the strain on parenting in general, the current situation presents an increased risk in the amount of time young people will be spending on laptops, tablets and smartphones.
“While Child Sexual Exploitation is certainly not a recent development, it has become much easier for paedophiles to groom children online by posing as youngsters on social media sites and messaging applications.
“These depraved criminals actively identify and target vulnerable young people whose personal profiles are often open for everyone to see on the internet. Ask yourself: ‘Do I know who my child is talking to on the internet?’
“This reality is every parent or carer’s worst nightmare and should be a huge wake-up call to those who are simply unaware of what could be going on behind a child’s computer screen or smartphone.
“It is vital that we all understand how young people use the internet. We need to know how social media works, what chat sites and apps children are using and how private information can be shared so easily.
“Crucially, we need to be able to recognise that a change in a child’s behaviour could be linked to what they are doing online.”
For more information visit Safeguarding Child online safety.
North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Partnership has also launched a new online resource containing information on safeguarding children during the coronavirus outbreak. The web pages are for anyone needing information on safeguarding children and young people while the pandemic is ongoing.