As almost a quarter of 12-15 year olds say they don’t know how to control who can see what they post on social media*, Thames Valley Police (TVP) is encouraging young people to take action to protect themselves online.
The internet is a fantastic place for young people to learn, play and socialise but it’s vital that young people are aware of its dangers and how to stay safe. Identity fraud, cyberstalking, confidence scams, cyberbullying, romance fraud, hacking, and distribution of malware are all examples of cyber dangers.
But there are simple ways to reduce the risks. Here are TVP’s top tips:
· Make sure you are only connected to people you know on social media networks and that your settings limit the information you share
· Turn off the mapping feature on social media and apps, as it shares your exact whereabouts and routine
· Be share aware – your email address, postal address, the name of the school/college you attend and your telephone number are all examples of personal information that you should keep private
· Always be cautious of internet chats - when you’re chatting online there’s no guarantee you are speaking to who you think
· Be cautious of fake sites when shopping online. If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is
· Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi - never provide personal information to access it or use sites which are password protected when using it
It’s also vital that parents, carers and responsible adults, such as youth activity leaders, have the tools and knowledge to help young people stay safe online.
Social media is a concern for many parents, who can struggle to keep up-to-date with the networks their children are using, so the NSPCC has created the Net Aware website (www.net-aware.org.uk). This online guide demystifies the content, age restrictions and perceived risk levels of over 30 social media and gaming networks, enabling parents to understand what their children are doing online.
TVP also recommends taking the NSPCC’s TEAM approach:
- Talk – to your child/children about staying safe online, find out what sites/social media they are using, what worries them and you about them being online, the emotional aspects of social media (jealousy, self-esteem etc)
- Explore their online world together – the NSPCC has useful tips of how to start the conversation on their website
- Agree rules about what is ok and not
- Manage parental controls on all your family’s devices – free helpline available (0808 800 5002)
- Repeat – make it part of everyday life
If you fall victim to cyber crime or experience an attempted scam report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.
For more information and advice visit www.thamesvalley.police.uk/pyw.
*Ofcom Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report, November 2017