We’re all spending more time online at the moment.
For children, this may involve playing games and chatting with their friends, logging on to do homework, or watching videos on sites such as YouTube.
There are so many ways for young people to connect in a digital world, but as a parent or carer, this can also be overwhelming, especially if you are not as tech savvy as the children you care for.
We’ve partnered with O2 to bring you Net Aware, a site dedicated to giving adults knowledge and understanding of the latest apps our children are using.
It gives advice on how to help keep children safe while they spend time online and how to have healthy conversations with them about their online lives.
For example, you may have heard about end-to-end encryption, but not be entirely sure of what it means.
Basically, it is where only you and the person you’re communicating with can view messages that have been sent.
WhatsApp is an example of an app that uses this type of encryption, which means that the messages can’t be remotely accessed by the police or government, even if they are trying to prevent a crime.
Facebook intends to roll out end-to-end encryption on its Messenger app as well, without appropriate safeguards in place for young people.
This is concerning, as it could increase the risk of children being exposed to grooming and sexual abuse, making it easier for offenders to make contact with children on these platforms.
This is why we are pushing the UK Government to publish the Online Harms Bill which will force tech companies to design in safety measures for all the young people who use their platforms.
Regardless of whether the platforms your children use have end-to-end encryption or not, what’s most important is how safe your child is while using the apps, sites and games they enjoy.
There are plenty of tips on Net Aware for how to help keep both younger and older children safe, but it’s a good idea to start off with exploring apps, sites and games together, and making sure the content these sites host is age-appropriate.
Remember to check that your child is not using apps which have age ratings above their own age.
It’s also important to speak to your child about who they are talking to online and remind them to be conscious of who they’re sharing personal information with, such their name, location, email, phone number and school name.
We’ve also teamed up with O2 to provide pre-recorded webinars on keeping children safe online.
These can be joined by visiting https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5218878529351517964
For information on the latest social media sites, apps and games, visit www.net-aware.org.uk