Parents urged to talk to children about online safety
PUBLISHED: 13:05 10 February 2018 | UPDATED: 11:16 11 February 2018
A children's charity has urged parents in Norfolk to talk to their children about online safety, as a national awareness raising week comes to a close.
Katy Cole, school service coordinator at the NSPCC, and Daniel Sanchez, an O2 guru in Norwich, took part in a Facebook live discussion at the EDP and Evening News offices on Friday.
It came after Safer Internet Day 2018 on Tuesday, which saw more than 1,000 organisations come together to raise awareness.
Fears over online abuse of children have mounted in recent years, with one in three internet users now said to be children.
Mrs Cole said: “We know that there has been an increase in children contacting Childline about abuse.
“However, we also know that more children have access to the internet and more children have their own devices, so there could be other reasons there.”
She said that “first and foremost”, it was important for parents to talk to their children about the dangers of online safety.
She recommended the charity’s Share Aware and Net Aware websites, which offer information.
“We recommend that as soon as you child or young person gets their own device, that’s when you should be having that conversation with them,” she said.
When asked by a reader what signs could indicate that a child may be being abused or groomed online, she said: “It could be a sudden change in behaviour, maybe they might be using their phone or device a lot more and being a bit secretive about that, or it might be suddenly they’ve got a lot more friends and contacts on their phone.
“It could be maybe if they don’t have access to that device and suddenly they start freaking out about that or get worried they can’t use it.” Mr Sanchez said it was not uncommon for parents to let children as young as 18 months and two years old watch videos on iPads.
“[For parents] it might feel like it’s very safe - it’s not like you’re letting them run around a shopping centre on their own, but it’s worth considering that it might be similar to that because there are dangers online,” he said.
Both agreed there was more social media firms could do, and Mrs Cole said the NSPCC was lobbying for more security measures to be in place in the area, including a regulatory body.
Please visit www.nspcc.org.uk for information.