12 Shares Of Christmas - Tips To Make Sure Your Children Are Sharing Online Safely

16/12/2016 10:10

Whether it's presents under the tree, mulled wine, mince pies or a favourite family anecdote, Christmas really is the best time of year for sharing.

Yet with an array of tech under the tree this year, from tablets and smartphones to consoles and laptops, it's also a time to make sure you are aware of just what kind of things your children will be sharing online.

New research conducted by Internet Matters reveals that just four-in-ten parents (42%), have given their children advice, or agreed rules on what content to post online.*

Researchers have also found that three-out-of-five children (60%) now use the internet alone in their bedrooms, an increase of 18% compared to 2013, meaning it is more important than ever that children understand what's appropriate to share, and how to stay safe when connecting with friends online.

The number of parents who say they always supervise their children while they're online has gone down in the last three years from 30% to just 19%, and 41% of children now access the internet at a friend's house or on the go, compared to 31% in 2013, both of which in part may be due to the increasing popularity of mobile tablets with younger children.

It's predicted that seven billion images will be shared around the world on December 25th, which will make this the most shared Christmas ever on social media.**

We've calculated that in the time it takes to cook the average Christmas turkey, 1.3 billion photos will be posted online. While you're sitting back watching the Queen's Christmas message, over 5 million images will be sent to Snapchat, alone.***

This Christmas, as you exchange anecdotes across the dinner table, and your children are likely enjoying the wonders of social media to do the same, help them share safely with these 12 useful tips.

1. Are they sharing inappropriate selfies?
Discuss the reasons why they feel the need to share such images and the potential long-term impact this could have on them if the pictures are used without their consent.

Peer pressure and the desire for attention can be reasons why some children feel the need to share inappropriate photos with their online friends.

2. Do you feel they're spending too much time on social?
Talk together so they understand your concerns. Agree house rules on when and how long they can go online and which sites they should visit.

3. Are they sharing their location through apps?
Make sure geolocation is disabled to keep their whereabouts private. Explain why it's important that they never share personal information with people they don't know online.

4. Have they posted too much personal information?
Talk to them about who they've shared the information with and assess the risk it poses to your child. You can also ask your child to remove the information from their account and help them understand how to share safely.

5. Are they chatting to strangers online?
Make sure your child understands that people may hide behind fake profiles for dishonest reasons and the person they've been chatting to could easily be someone with bad intentions.

6. Are they gaming with strangers online?
Playing games online can be fun and positive but make sure your child understands people may be adults using bad language or aggressive behaviour, so learn how to block and report anything offensive.

7. Do they have hundreds of followers?
Explain that some people may not be who they say they are and tell your child how privacy settings can put them in control of who they talk to.

8. Have they shared embarrassing images?
Remind your child that these images are their personal digital footprint for years to come and advise them to use settings that only let them share with friends they know. If they're not comfortable wearing it on their T-shirt, they shouldn't put it online.

9. Are they at risk of being cyberbullied?
Stay calm, listen without judging and reassure your child that you can help. Discuss any action you may take together. Encourage them not to retaliate and to save any evidence.

10. Do they understand that what they share online can hurt others?
Talk together about peer pressure and how screens and anonymity can lead to behaviour that is hurtful. Remind them there's a fine line between sharing content because it's funny or might get lots of 'likes' versus the potential to cause offence or hurt.

11. Have they been affected by content shared online?
Encourage them to think about why friends may share certain posts. Show them how to gently challenge their friends if they find their content offensive. Remind them they can always talk to you about things happening online.

12. Are they ready to share on social?
Most social media apps have a minimum age rating of 13. If a social network has set an age limit it means that some of the content may not be suitable for a younger child.

For more information and step-by-step guides on how to keep you children safe online, go to internetmatters.org

*Research of 1,500 parents of children aged 6 to 16, carried out by Opinion Leader in September 2016
** Deloitte TMT Predictions 2016
***Snapchat usage figures courtesy of KPCB Internet Trends 2016, based on a 20 pound turkey taking 4.5 hours to cook

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