Scots parents urged to protect their children online

Parents and carers have been urged by CHILDREN 1ST to be more vigilant about the online risks to children and to learn how to help keep them safe.

To mark Safer Internet Day (Tuesday 5 February), and as part of its See. Hear. Speak. Act on sexual abuse campaign, the charity carried out a survey on internet use and safety.

Half of parents surveyed (50%) had not set the parental controls on their home computers, smartphones and other home devices capable of online access. The most common reason given for failing to do so was that they “didn’t think they needed to.”

Despite 67% of parents thinking privacy settings were not needed, around half (48%) felt their child was not safe using social networking sites. Just over a quarter (28%) said they wished they knew more about the devices their children use so they could limit potential hazards such as internet “grooming” or cyber bullying.

As the charity launched its Do One Thing Today initiative, which gives parents and carers practical tips on keeping their children safe. Anne Houston, Chief Executive of CHILDREN 1ST, said: “We believe it’s everybody’s responsibility to protect children. As part of that, it’s crucial that parents and carers educate themselves about mobile technology and online communities. They need to be aware of the risks facing young people and  ensure they are using technology in a responsible way.

“If you do just one thing today – Safer Internet Day – make sure the safety controls are set on all home based devices that provide access to the internet – whether it’s the TV, PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet. Also check what child protection measures your internet service provider offers, or consider using internet filtering software or child-friendly search engines. Concerned parents can also get more advice from ParentLine Scotland, our confidential helpline and email service, on 08000 28 22 33 or [email protected]

Kezia Dugdale MSP, co-convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s cross-party group on Children and Young People, added: “We all want our young people to enjoy modern technology, however, it’s vital they remain safe and secure when doing so. It’s important parents look for any signs of online activity which may be harmful to their child, including risks such as predatory relationships, grooming and cyber bullying. Parents can help by following the advice of Safer Internet Day and take steps such as making any online profile private, blocking messages, and being aware of how their children interact online.”

For information on setting up parental controls on internet devices, go to www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-and-resources/parents-and-carers.