As with some more traditional toys, children playing in virtual worlds require some degree of adult supervision if they are to play safely. I encourage parents to use the time over the Christmas period to explore some of these resources, and to talk to their kids about what they enjoy online, show an interest and learn and explore the Internet together.
In a profound act of role reversal, we as parents, educators, law enforcement agencies, civil society, who are meant to be the guardians of children, find ourselves behind the curve. But it remains our duty to stand at the gates of childhood and protect our children from harm and that means protecting them in the digital world as well as in the physical world.
High profile hacks such as that of online dating website, Ashley Madison, and last year's attack on Sony have helped bring hacking scandals to the forefront of the news agenda, what these high profile, large scale business hacks fail to bring to light is the smaller scale cyber-attacks targeting consumers, like you and I daily, and the impact these can have on our lives.
Chances are that if you have a child approaching their 'tweens' they will soon be clamouring for a) a mobile phone b) a social media account c) a games console - all of which could enable them to chat to complete strangers anywhere in the world. The days of a family PC in the corner of the living room are long gone.
Using the internet to chat with friends or play games online has become just as normal for many children as getting up to go to school. With millions of children browsing the web the questions I suspect many parents will ask themselves are: What does my child do when they go online? Are they browsing web sites I should be concerned about?
I remember the days when hacking was something that people did because they could. It wasn't quite done for fun, but people wanted to show off their computer skills. More often than not, hacking was harmless, someone broke into a system and left a little calling card, but beyond that there was very little damage done. It was for the thrill as much as anything.
We know that the Internet has a darker side and we need to know what to do if we come across it. This is where the Internet Watch Foundation steps in. As a business, we are a founder member of the Internet Watch Foundation, which has been working tirelessly for almost twenty years to minimise the availability of online abusive content.