As the summer campaign to help keep kids safe continues, this week’s topic focuses on online safety for children of all ages across the region.
With grooming on the increase, cases of cyber bullying continuing and many opportunities for children to find themselves in dangerous situations, the local NHS in Birmingham and Solihull is keen to raise awareness amongst children and parents in an effort to help safeguard them against the online risks.
“Most kids have a tablet or even a smart phone and there are so many apps available now at the touch of a button,” says Masood Nazir, local GP and Chief Clinical Information Officer for NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG. “This can open the door to a lot of danger especially when it comes to the more vulnerable children and communities.”
With Children’s internet use reaching record highs, 5-15 year olds spend an average of 15 hours a week online. But a worrying statistic suggests that 1 in 10 or less parents say they don’t know how to use some of the risky websites and apps used by children.
A simple checklist can be hugely effective if done regularly:
- Prioritise safety - Teach children not to give out personal information, like their name, address, telephone number, or which school they go to.
- Set parental controls - Agree a list of websites your child is allowed to visit, and remember to check the minimum age limit on services like Facebook and YouTube.
- Discuss their activity - Take an interest in their online world. Talk to them about their favourite websites, videos, and their online friends.
- Set boundaries - Establish time limits for activities such as using the internet and games consoles. Make sure to set aside time for “unplugged” family activity.
- Be open - Let them know that they can tell you about anything that happens on the internet, and that you’ll listen without judgement.
“Education is key when it comes to online safety. Make it your business to know what your children are accessing online and know about any worrying signs to look out for.”