Safeguarding children from the dangers of online


Annie Shafi

In recent times, the internet is something that has taken over everyone’s lives and the possibilities of the things you can do are great like communication, socialising,  easy access to information and learning, up-to-the-minute news, and shopping, to name but a few. But having said that there’s also a dark side to the internet. We have to be on the ball to protect young people from it. There is an aspect of anonymity which is often exploited by paedophiles, bullies, and criminals. Children and young people are especially vulnerable as they can be trusting.

We at Muslim Foster Network have drawn up some guidelines to help you keep children and younger people safe:

  • Supervise

This is by far the best solution. You should have a laptop or whatever device the child is using in the living room. this will allow for you to keep an eye on what they are doing and if they are talking to someone ask them who they are talking to just like you would ask them about their school friends etc

  • parental control software.

Nowadays you can download free versions of parental control software on all devices PCs, laptops, tablets and phones. The software blocks access to inappropriate websites and undesirable content. Some have features of controlling the amount of time a child spends online.

  • Cover the in-built camera

on a laptop with a sticking plaster.  With most of the gaming site there tends to be a lot of spyware, this enables the perpetrator to use your camera and see into your home without you being aware.

  • Teach your child or young person how to stay safe online 

Work with them and set privacy controls. Talk about what might be OK for children of different ages. Ask your child what sites or apps they like. Write a list, and look at them together. Be positive about what you see, but also be open about concerns you have: “I think this site’s really good” or “I’m a little worried about things I’ve seen here”.Talk to your child about what you think is appropriate – but also involve them in the conversation. Ask what they think is OK for children of different ages – they’ll feel involved in the decision-making.

Be aware that your child might talk about friends who use apps or visit sites that you’ve decided aren’t suitable. Be ready to discuss your reasons, but recognise that they may not agree with you. Listen carefully to the reasons why. Go through a final list of sites you both agree are OK, and work out when you’ll next discuss it.

  • Have a social media account

I think it is really important for the parent to have social media accounts so you understand how it works. Be your child or young person’s friend and monitor their activity. Talk about how they can stay safe on social networks

Ask your child if they know:

  1. where reporting functions are
  2. how to block someone
  3. how to keep information private.

Show them how to do these things. Talk about online privacy, explain that online behaviour – including sharing personal information – should mirror behaviour in person.

Explain that talking to strangers isn’t always ‘bad’, but they should always be careful about what they share and sometimes people aren’t who they say they are.

  • Teach your child not to share any personal details
  • It is important that your child doesnt share any personal information online including their full name, photograph, home and school address. Talk to your child about what ‘personal information’ is – such as email address, full name, phone number, address and school name – and why it’s important.Explain simple ways to protect privacy. For example, avoiding usernames like birthdates or locations that give away too much information.Discuss images and photos, and what might be appropriate. Help your child understand how photographs can give people a sense of your personality, and that sharing the wrong kind of image can give the wrong impression.

    Explain that it isn’t easy to identify someone online. People aren’t always who they say they are, so don’t share personal information. If it’s someone who genuinely knows your child, they shouldn’t need to ask for personal information online.

    Tell your child that if they’re in any doubt they should talk to you first.

  •  Suspicious or unwanted attention

If your child or younger person has any concerns about someone who has contacted them or they have been chatting to online they must feel they can tell you. Report suspicious or unwanted attention to the website moderator.

You should be able to talk about things they, or their friends, have seen that made them feel uncomfortable:

  1. Be specific. What exactly made them feel uncomfortable and why? Is it people or animals being hurt? Nasty comments about others?
  2. Link these to things in the real world, and explain that you’re always here to protect and help them online and off.
  3. Reassure your child that they can always talk to you about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
  4. Show them how to report or block on the sites and apps they use.
  5. Tell them you’ll help them to report anything upsetting they’ve seen, or to deal with online bullying.
  • Relationships do form through social media. If your young person wants to meet someone they have been chatting to online find out as much as you can about the person, then suggest they meet at your house.  Alternatively, give them a lift in your car or go with them, and then wait unobtrusively. If it’s genuine the other person won’t mind. They may have a laugh but better to be safe than sorry.

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