Get switched on to your child's online world Date published: 3rd July 2019 4.28pm

Cheshire Constabulary is urging parents to get switched on to their children’s online world.

For young people the internet can be a wonderful and exciting place, where they can explore, learn new things, communicate and be entertained. But with their online world growing, the Constabulary wants to make sure parents are aware of the day-to-day risks this access can bring.

Working together with Get Safe Online, the Constabulary is issuing vital safety advice on how to be a switched on parent.

  • Have regular conversations with your child about the good and not-so-good things about the internet.
  • Set boundaries and rules from a young age.
  • Chat with friends, family and other parents about how they help their children to progress and keep safe online.
  • Use parental control software and apps on computers, mobile devices and games consoles, privacy features on social networking sites, and the safety options on search engines.
  • Tell your child that not everybody they meet online is necessarily who they appear to be.
  • Explain and encourage safe searching.
  • Check lower age limits of social networking, picture sharing, gaming and other sites and apps.
  • Keep yourself up to date with new game and social media trends, especially those with negative publicity because they may be violent, encourage gambling or leave the way open for grooming.
  • Use a family email address when signing up for apps so that you can keep a watchful eye.
  • Be aware of the rise in children’s live streaming of themselves and the potential dangers.
  • Talk to your children about oversharing.
  • However well you know your child, ask yourself if they could be carrying out some kind of negative online activity that harms others, even if they do not realise this.

Detective Sergeant Chris Maddocks, of Cheshire Constabulary’s cybercrime team, said: “Children learn through exploration and natural curiosity, and it is part of our job as parents and carers to encourage that, but take the necessary steps to ensure their safety.

“Until their understanding catches up with their curiosity, our children need to be protected from everyday dangers like crossing the road, safety around the home and something that shouldn’t be underestimated, being online.

“Chances are your child is already an ‘online veteran’ who knows their way around the internet, apps, games, downloading and social networking with ease, but they almost certainly don’t have the life-experience and wisdom to handle all of the situations they encounter, which is why it is so important that parents and carers get switched on to their children’s online world.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, David Keane, said: “Children are constantly accessing the internet on mobile devices, which opens them up to a world of exploration, but it can also expose them to dangers. Parents and carers have an important role to play in ensuring their children are aware of these dangers.

“One of the main issues young people encounter online is cyber-bullying. Gone are the days when they could go home from school to a safe place away from bullies, internet technology now means bullies can operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week bringing a constant source of distress and worry for victims.

“Through an anti-bullying commission, I’m aiming to develop a set of recommendations for the education and criminal justice sectors to provide more protection of victims of bullying.”

Parents can join Cheshire Constabulary at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park between 17 - 21 July to learn how to be a switched on parent. Designed by University Centre Reaseheath Level 5 Landscape Architecture Students, the garden aims to raise awareness of the five simple steps that can be taken to help Cheshire residents stay safe online.

Cheshire Constabulary launched its 5Cs campaign to help people stay safe online earlier this year. To find out more visit: https://cheshire.police.uk/5cs.

For more information about online safety for children visit: https://www.getsafeonline.org/safekidsonline/