After Christmas, when many children will inevitably get new mobile phones and gaming consoles, keeping young people safe and protected online is more important than ever.
Every parent finds themselves struggling with the latest technology and often has no idea what their kids are doing online or who they are talking to.
PSNI has confirmed that a 28-year-old man has been arrested in the Coleraine area on suspicion of attempting sexual communication. He is due to appear in court next month.
After the arrest, police urged parents to be cautious about what their children may be accessing online, pointing out the dangers of online games in particular.
Earlier this month, the PSNI revealed that reports of online child sexual abuse crimes have surged by more than 80% over the past three years. Many children are approached by sexual predators online or on their gaming platforms.
PSNI, along with the Northern Ireland Safeguards Commission, have put together some key tips for keeping kids safe online.
Talk about what your kids are doing online:
One of the best ways to keep kids safe online is to have an open dialogue about what they do online.
Having candid, non-judgmental conversations about the online world they are engaged in will make your child feel confident that they can come to you.
It tells you what you do online, what websites and apps you use on your device, and who you talk to when you use social media or play online games. It could be by asking.
Get to know the technology your child is using.
If you don’t know how to use your child’s mobile phone, tablet, or game console, you don’t know that your child is using them to access potentially harmful content or communicate inappropriately with someone There is a possibility.
If your child has a new console or device after Christmas, take the time to familiarize yourself with the details.
This includes checking if age restrictions can be set in advance and applying filters to ensure that the right measures are in place from the moment you start using it.
Parental controls for all kinds of devices are usually documented in the device’s own manual or website, and there are plenty of guides and resources online for setting up safety features.
Learn about the games your child loves to play online.
One tip from the PSNI involves encouraging parents to participate in their children’s favorite online games.
The benefits of doing so include building trust between parent and child. This makes it easy to start constructive conversations about what your child is doing, who they are talking to online and, importantly, who they are talking to.
It’s also important to remind children how important it is to tell a trusted adult if something happens online that makes them feel uncomfortable or worried. .
We should also mention the tools included in many games for reporting inappropriate and abusive online behavior.
Screen time management:
If your children are using their devices all the time when they cannot be supervised, they are more likely to be exposed to harmful activities online.
It’s important to discuss screen time beforehand. This allows everyone in the family to be aware of the amount of time they can tolerate and agree on the appropriate level.
Many devices and apps now include screen time limits that can be set to actively restrict access to the device, giving parents a little peace of mind when using their new game console or mobile phone. I can do it.
Check video game content and age suitability:
Age restrictions and content icons from Pan European Game Information (PEGI) help you decide which games are right for your child.
Content icons indicate game content such as inappropriate language, references to violence, drugs or sex, and whether the game has an online mode.
You may also consider using parental control on your device to minimize the risk of your child seeing something upsetting. Depending on your device, you may also be able to control whether your child can download or purchase new apps.