With summer well under way, our children are all facing a lengthy period of time out of their usual school environment, giving some of them more time to be able to browse the internet. A lot of parents may not know how safe their children are online, making the work of the Doncaster child exploitation team even more relevant across the summer months.
This multi-agency team comprises of: health, police, social care and education, who work with children and young people up to 18 years of age. One of the helpful team members includes specialist nurse Jayne Pezzulo, whose role is to address health needs of young people referred into the team. As part of the team they also deliver education awareness sessions regarding exploitation in schools, communities, and to professionals.
With summer in full flow, the team have got together some key tips to ensure your child is as safe as possible online. Speaking to the Doncaster Echo, Jayne and the team provided the following information.
“To minimise headaches for parents, it is important to ensure your children have a balanced lifestyle and do not have over exposure to devices. Our first tip is to have a digital dusk, do not allow your child to use devices in the hour before bedtime. Tip two, make sure they are maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Do not let your children become addicted to their devices and limit snacking while using them.
“Tip three, tech-free meal times. Ensure that devices do not hinder family time and social occasions, and finally tip four, why not consider making home tech rules? For example, set time limits for the use of devices and technology.
“Parents need to be aware of what online sites and apps their children are using, along with the age restrictions for what they are accessing. Children can easily be groomed online by people who pretend they are safe, and can start to have conversations that can then lead to the young person being asked to send indecent images online and/or engage in sexual conversations.
“Children can be targeted through online gaming, social network sites and mobile phones to name a few. It is important that parents monitor their child’s online activity and that privacy settings are in place.”
As part of the Digital Economies Bill (2017), on 15th July 2019, age verification launches, to safeguard children from accessing adult material online and enhance parental supervision.
This launch aims to protect young children from online threats and exploitation. Jayne has also provided some further information as to how parents can keep their children safer online.
“It is important for children and young people to have a balance between active lifestyles and screen time; there is a link between obesity and technology. It is important that screen time does not interfere with family time and meeting up with friends. Excessive online use can isolate children from other activities.”
Check out these sites over the summer: www.parentinfo.org, www.paceuk.info, www.nspcc.org.uk, www.ceop.gov.uk, www.net-aware.org.uk, www.childnet-int.org, www.thinkuknow.co.uk
How to report a concern if you are worried about your child online ring 999.
Ring 01302 737777 to discuss any issues with your local Child Exploitation Team. Ring 101 for non-emergencies.