You’re likely to be working with a child or young person who has asked for some form of internet-enabled tech for Christmas. Be it a new smartphone, tablet or the latest games console.
While their device will provide them with hours of entertainment and the opportunity to connect with family and friends they can't meet with face-to-face, it can also present new risks.
A new device enables children and young people to access new communities through online gaming and social media.
If you can, make time before the end of term to start a conversation with children and young people about how they use online technology and what it means to them. Use this opportunity to remind them of some key strategies for safer internet use, such as:
It’s important that young people know where to go if they come across something online that worries them or makes them feel uncomfortable – especially as contact with trusted sources of support may not be available over the holidays.
Reinforce this by sending this information out to parents and carers too. Consider using the following resources as a starting point:
Parental controls can be a great tool to help protect young people online, and should be installed on any new device that they use.
Give parents and carers the information they need to use these controls effectively by signposting them to our parental controls article.
Remind them that controls are not a single solution to staying safe online and ongoing conversations with their child are just as important.
Build on these conversations and develop their skills and knowledge by using the following resources to deliver online safety education in the new year:
- Jessie & Friends: 3 animated films for 4 to 7 year olds with session plans, activities and storybooks
- Play Like Share: 3 animated films for 8 to 10s with session plans and activities
- #LiveSkills: resources for 8 to 18s on live streaming
- Send me a pic?: 3 session plans and film clips for 12 to 14s on consensual and non-consensual image sharing
- Online blackmail: a session plan and worksheets for 15 to 18s
Use our online safety toolkits to deliver 15-minute activities on themes such as live streaming, gaming, and online friendships.
They will help children and young people to understand healthy and unhealthy behaviours within friendships and relationships, respond safely to manipulative or pressurising behaviour, and understand the importance of seeking help from a trusted adult when they need it.
Share our #OnlineSafetyAtHome packs with parents and carers for 15-minute activities that can be done at home. They can also access conversation starters and online safety actions that families can take.
Throughout, remember that your focus shouldn’t be to put young people off using their new device or encourage parents not to buy it in the first place.
Scaremongering is not effective and makes young people far less likely to ask you for help if they encounter a threat online.
Aim to provide a balanced view that encourages them to share their thoughts and engage with new ideas about staying safe.