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Keeping Safe Online

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We are always looking for ways to keep our children safe.  We thought it was timely to remind parents and whanau about strategies and techniques to help keep your tamariki safe in an online world. The following information is from Netsafe New Zealand.

Online Bullying

One in five young people in New Zealand have been the target of online bullying – it can happen to anyone, and it can be hard for parents to deal with. Netsafe has advice for parents on what to do if you think your child is being bullied online:

Stay calm: Your child needs to be able to talk to you and know that you’ll be level headed, thoughtful and helpful in your response.

Evaluate the situation: It’s important to know exactly what’s going on before you can work out what to do next. Is it a few off hand remarks, or is it something more serious?

Understand how your child is being affected:  If your child is upset about a situation, let them know that you understand and it’s OK to be upset.

Block or report content: Teach your child how to use the features available on most social networking sites including blocking and unfriending people and reporting content. You should also show them how to update privacy settings on social media – if you’re not sure how, visit the safety centres of the social media platforms they use. You may want to block phone numbers that are sending bullying or abusive messages. You can find instructions for blocking numbers on your phone by searching online. Use the words “how to block phone numbers” + the model of your phone.

Ask for help: You can contact Netsafe at any time for free help and advice on what you might be able to do to help your child. If the bullying is happening at school, or involves students at the school you can also contact your child’s teacher to talk about the situation and options available to resolve things.

For more information about online bullying visit www.netsafe.org.nz/parents-bullying

Online Gaming

Gaming is everywhere. Many mobile games are played online and can have a multiplayer option where gamers can interact with their friends, as well as strangers all over the world.  Many also have private messaging features.

Here are Netsafe’s top tips for parents wanting to keep their children safe while they play online games:

  1. Set up parental controls:
    Both mobile and traditional gaming platforms offer parental control features or apps which requires you to okay any game your child tries to download.
  2. Set boundaries:
    Talk to your child about the game before they get started and set some boundaries about how many hours you think it is appropriate for them to play the game each week. It’s also a good idea to discuss appropriate online behaviour and the expectations you have of their own online conduct. Remind them that they should never share any personal or private details with someone they meet online.
  3. Make a plan for if something goes wrong:
    It’s important to talk with your child about the types of behaviour they may experience from other players while playing the game – unfortunately some of this may be negative. Make sure they know how to use any blocking and reporting features and let them know that they can always talk to you if they encounter something that makes them feel uncomfortable or upset.
  4. Check in:
    Check in with your kids when they’re playing games and show interest in their progress. Ask how they are going and if they have any concerns about other players. Note any changes in behaviour or sleeping patterns, or if they start talking a lot about a new friend they met in the game.

For more information on online gaming advice visit www.netsafe.org.nz/gaming

Screen Time

The internet has changed the way we work, rest and play. With so many ways to connect many parents worry about how much time their children spend online.

Here are Netsafe’s top tips for parents wanting to manage how much time their children spend online:

  • Not all time spent online is made equal – time spent passively consuming is not as constructive as time spent creating or learning online. Talk to your children about what kinds of activities they are doing online and base your screen time limits on this.
  • Set boundaries – try to set limits on the amount of time they spend doing certain activities online as soon as they get the device, this makes it easier later on. You can also look into using parental controls or scheduling or restricting access via the router.
  • Model good behaviour – agree limits on technology use and make sure you stick to them too! This could be no devices at the dinner table or no answering emails after a certain time at night.
  • If your child’s technology use is affecting their ability to take part in normal activities (such as sleeping, doing their homework or doing other hobbies) or changed their behaviour at school or at home then it’s important you look at managing their technology use.

For more information on screen time visit www.netsafe.org.nz/screen-time

Sharing Images Safely

Social media makes it easy to share photos of your children with friends and family around the world. If you’re thinking about sharing a photo of your child online Netsafe has some tips about how to do so safely:

  1. Look ahead
    It’s worth taking some time to think about the digital footprint you are creating for your child by posting images or other content about them online. Think about how your child might feel about the content you’re sharing once they’re older and how it may affect their future.
  2. Ask for permission
    Does the photo you’re about to post include other people’s children? It’s best if you ask their parents for permission before you post a photo online. If your children are old enough consider asking them if they’re ok for you to share it before you post a photo as well.
  3. Check your privacy settings
    If you’re thinking about sharing a photo of your child on social media it’s important that you first check what privacy settings you have set up. Some social media networks default to public or more open privacy settings when you sign up so make sure what you’re posting can only be seen by the people you’d like to see it.
  4. Think about who you’ve got in your friend network
    A lot of people have social media networks that include people they aren’t close to anymore. Make sure you are happy with everyone in your social media friend network seeing the photo – if you’re not sure or if you’d prefer to share it only with a smaller group consider setting up a private social network group with friends and family or a group chat.
  5. Is there any personal information in the picture?
    Before you hit post, have another close look at the photo to make sure you’re not revealing any personal information about yourself or your child. Some things to look out for include: the name of your child’s school, your road or house number or any other personal or private information.

For more information on keeping children safe online visit www.netsafe.org.nz

Privacy and Security Settings

It’s important to teach kids the basics of how to protect themselves and their information online. Netsafe has put together some tips about privacy and security settings:

  1. Strong passwords
    A strong password helps protect the information in your on online profiles or accounts. Ideally passwords should be 15-20 characters long and should avoid things that someone could easily guess such as a pet name.
  2. Information to protect online
    Talk to your child about what kind of information they should protect online. Information that they should never share includes:
    – Login details and passwords
    – Bank account details
    – Home address
    – Phone numbers
    – Birthdate
    – Personal information that could be used to guess security questions for online accounts
    You should also talk about personal details they could share online, such as where they are and the school they attend. This includes sharing their location – some apps allow you to share your current location with friends, or publicly.

For more information about keeping your children safe online visit www.netsafe.org.nz

Social Media

How old should kids be before they get social media accounts? The minimum sign up age for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube is 13. Of course, if they’re under the age minimum it’s always better that they’re honest with you about using an app or site, rather than doing it behind your back. This way, you can help them to stay safe online.

Here are Netsafe’s top tips for setting up social media accounts for your child:

  • Make sure you’ve taught them the online safety basics (this includes how to set up a strong password, what information they need to protect online, what is appropriate online behaviour and what they should do if they need help or if something makes them uncomfortable or upset).
  • Help your child to set up the account. Pay particular attention to the privacy settings when you sign them up. Depending on their age, use your email address to sign up.
  • Enter their actual birth year in the sign-up process so they’re less likely to see inappropriate content.
  • Become their friend, or follow them – that way you can keep track of what they’re doing online.
  • Teach them about the safety tools available – most social networks include tools to block, report or remove harmful content. Make sure they know how to use these to keep themselves safe.

For more information about keeping your children safe online visit www.netsafe.org.nz

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