Safer Internet Day
Safer Internet Day is an annual event organised by UK Safer Internet Centre, featuring a different theme each year to educate internet users about. The 2023 theme is "Want to talk about it? Making space for conversations about life online"
48% of 10-15 year olds spend more than 3 hours a day online on a school day, rising to 78% on a weekend. Clearly, the internet plays a huge part in our lives, and provides a platform for young people to play, learn and express their personality in a world with ever-expanding possibilities.
Children are also accessing the internet at much younger ages through mobile devices, tablets and games consoles. For all the positives, however, it is important to understand the risks that children face. A recent survey of parents andged children in Derbyshire from i-Vengers highlights a possible difference between what parents think is happening, and the reality faced by their children online. Where 9% of parents believed that someone their child did not know had attempted to contact them online, the true figure as stated by their children was 37%. Through the theme of Safer Internet Day 2023, we want to support parents and families in making conversations about online safety a normal part of home life, to build trust and understanding.
Parents: Why are regular conversations important?
- It is important for children to know that they can turn to you for support after a bad experience.
- Children are worried about having their devices confiscated. Having regular conversations about online safety builds trust in your child that they will not be blamed for bad experiences that are out of their control.
- Frequent conversations break down barriers to talking about embarrassing subjects (e.g pornography, inappropriate content or gambling)
- You will have a greater appreciation of the enjoyment and entertainment value that the internet provides for your child.
- You can gain an understanding of the role the internet has in allowing your child to be who they want to be.
- It is important for adults to understand what their children are using the internet for, to put adequate safeguards in place, such as parental controls or filtering.
- Understanding the platforms that children use can allow you to educate your child on keeping themselves safe, and the safety features available on these platforms.
- Through discussion, your children will gain a greater understanding of risks, and can identify behaviours or content that is harmful.
- You can discuss plans for how to respond to viewing inappropriate content or encountering behaviour that is harmful or upsetting.
- Children can express what they would like to see done differently to keep them safe.
- Your child might have some handy tips to teach you!
Preparing for conversations with your child
Research the platforms that you know your children use. Websites such as Taming Gaming provide a detailed profile of online games: covering an overview of the game, benefits to playing, in-game communications, in-game purchases as well as PEGI content rating. Please note: PEGI ratings are legally enforceable on physical copies of games, but not for downloaded games. Do you have a knowledge or approval of the games your children are downloading? For Social Media sites and apps, Internet Matters provide excellent “how-to guides” and safety tips for parents for the top mainstream platforms.
Consider any potentially embarrassing topics that might surface or that you have perhaps experienced as a family in the past. Plan to avoid victim blaming language that can shut down willingness to talk.
Plan where to have your first conversation. Family time such as when eating tea together at the table can be a natural time to talk about what your children have been getting up to. You might want to mention in advance to your child that Safer Internet Day 2023 is 7 February and ask them if they are doing anything at school to mark the occasion.
Holding the conversation
Consider using these conversation starters with your child:
- What is your favourite game that you’re playing at the moment? Can we play it together?
- What do you enjoy most about going online?
- Is there anything online that worries or upsets you?
- Someone said something hurtful to me on social media the other day. What do you think I should do about it?
- How do you stay safe when you’re online?
Some general advice when holding these conversations:
Let your child talk without interruption. Let the conversation be guided by what your child wants to talk about so that they naturally become comfortable in talking online safety with you.
Let your child assume the role of the expert. Children love to share their knowledge: can they teach you what they know about their online gaming and socialising, and the safety settings they use?
Commit to having further conversations. Try to build these conversations into a normal part of your family life. Thank your child for talking about an important and interesting topic and ensure that they know they can come to you for advice and support.
More information from these trusted websites:
Activities from our partners on Safer Internet Day
- Sign up to a free online safety webinar, featuring more tailored advice for parents. The session will be hosted online by Derbyshire Constabulary’s Cyber Protect Officer, Samantha Hancock:
Tuesday 7 Feb at 6:30pm
Wednesday 8 Feb at 1:30pm
- Digital PCSO, Sarah Dufton, is visiting schools this week to educate pupils about online safety. You can find details of her visits on the Derbyshire Police Facebook page
- Education Data Hub are currently working with schools in Derbyshire to audit their cyber security measures, provide detailed next steps for improvement and train all school staff to understand their role in maintaining the school’s cyber security. This program is free for all Local Authority maintained schools in Derbyshire, with a fee for academies. You can find out how to apply here: Are you cyber ready?
- Try our free Digital MOT to find out how you could be safer online. It’s quick, easy and gives some handy ideas of how to improve your internet safety.ontent]