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Online Advice For Parents

If you are a "web-wise" parent then you will know that although the internet has a lot to offer, there are still some dark-sides to it and people who use it prey on children. If you are not a "web-wise" parent then chances are you have heard of such stories and will be even more concerned about your child's use of the internet considering you do not know much about it. Whichever parent you are then it does not mean that you should stop your child from using the internet. There is a lot of good out there and the internet has become an almost invaluable tool for school work and for keeping abreast of current affairs or the latest on your favourite TV shows or bands.

In order to protect your child online you are best off talking to them rather than just banning them from using the internet. By discussing your concerns and raising awareness of potential dangers then you should be able to wise up your child in the same way that you prepare them for the outside world. By simply banning their use of the internet you will encourage them to become more secretive and less open meaning you will have even less control of how they use the world wide web. By following our simple precautions we hope that not only will you get a better understanding of the internet and what it has to offer, but also it will develop your relationship with your child and allow you to both be more open with each other.

- Ensure that your child never gives out any personal information about themselves or anyone else in their family to anyone that they do not know properly. This includes full name, school attended, email address, home address, telephone number and parent's occupation. - Discourage your child from using online private chatrooms, and if they do use a chatroom then stick to the public section. When using online instant messaging programmes, ensure they only accept invitations from people they know and to block strangers who contact them randomly. - Tell your child to never to arrange to meet anyone, regardless of who they are, how old they are, and what they have in common. People aren't always who they say there online.

Of course it may be a perfectly innocent meeting by two similar aged children but nothing should be arranged without it being discussed with a parent, and no meeting should take place without an adult present. - Speak to your Internet Service Provider about their child safety features. You may find you are able to regulate your child's use of the internet and block access to unsuitable sites.

If you do block access to a particular site then discuss your reasons for doing so with your child so that they understand why you have done it. - Remember that even if you have blocks in place that your child may still find a way around them. By being open with your child you would hope that your child will be open and trustworthy in return. - Encourage your child to talk to you about their online experiences both bad and good. If you can, try and get involved with your child's internet use by looking at websites together. Should your child have a bad experience on the internet encourage them to talk to you about it.

Try not to over react or blame the child. They will be scared and should not be made to feel bad if someone else has approached your child in an inappropriate manner. - If you think your child has been approached by a paedophile then contact your local police.

All UK forces have officers who specialise in internet crime. The sooner you report such an incident the more the police will be able to do in order to trace any potential paedophile. - And finally, as already said above, encourage your child to use the internet in a fun and safe manner. Get to know what they look at and discuss with them anything you do not know or understand. Be open with them and in turn they will be open with you.

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