Talking to your foster child about online safety
Most people use the Internet to talk to people every day. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are a great way of staying connected with friends, but they are often exploited by groomers who use the sites to target young children. The risks that young people are facing online have risen significantly and the Home Office have described it as “a global problem”. With this in mind, it is crucial that you, as foster parents, are aware of what sites your foster child visits – and even more important that you talk openly to your foster child about the risks and dangers that they might face.
The following advice from the NSPCC explains how to tackle a conversation about online safety with your children.
Explore sites and apps together
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”.
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 for the reasons why.
Ask about things they might see online which make them feel uncomfortable
Talk about things they, or their friends, have seen that made them feel uncomfortable:
- Be specific. What exactly made them feel uncomfortable and why? Is it people or animals being hurt? Nasty comments about others?
- Link these to things in the real world, and explain that you’re always here to protect and help them online and off.
- Reassure your child that they can always talk to you about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Show them how to report or block on the sites and apps they use.
- Tell them you’ll help them to report anything upsetting they’ve seen or to deal with online bullying.
Talk about how they can stay safe on social networks
Ask you child if they know:
- where reporting functions are
- how to block someone
- how to keep information private
Show them how to do these things.
Talk about online privacy and being Share Aware. 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.
Reassure them that you won’t overreact – you’re just looking out for them
Explain that you understand the Internet is a great place to be and that you’re just looking out for them. Tell them they should speak up and not keep secrets if something is worrying them.
Reassure them that you’re interested in all aspects of their life. Say that you’d like to talk about stuff they’ve seen online, sites and apps they visit, and you’ll share things you’ve seen too. Recognise that they’ll be using the internet to research homework, for example.
Read more on the NSPCC website: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/talking-your-child-staying-safe-online/
Source used: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-37406518