Internet Safety Day 2023- Information for Parents
About Safer Internet Day 2023
Safer Internet Day 2023 will take place on the 7th of February 2023, with celebrations and learning based around the theme ‘Want to talk about it? Making space for conversations about life online’.
In the UK, we are celebrating by putting children and young people’s voices at the heart of the day and encouraging them to shape the online safety support that they receive.
That is why we are asking parents, carers, teachers, government, policymakers, and the wider online safety industry to take time to listen to children and young people and make positive change together.
This year we are hoping to answer the following questions:
- What issues really matter to children and young people?
- What changes do they want to see?
- How can we all work together to advocate for them moving forward?
With your help, Safer Internet Day 2023 can be a springboard for conversations that shape how we talk about and respond to online issues, not just for one day, but throughout the whole year.
Practical tips for starting a conversation about life online
The internet plays a significant role in the lives of children and young people; becoming integral to their social development as they get older. Talking to young people about their life online and encouraging them to share their experiences with you, is a key part of helping to safeguard your family.
Whatever your level of knowledge or confidence, these five tips will help you start, manage and maintain an open dialogue with your children about life online, and help you support them to use technology safely and positively.
Be positive and open minded about the internet
It’s important to recognise the exciting opportunities that going online can offer children and young people. Although your children may use the internet differently to you, their experiences are still significant.
If your child mentions something you haven’t heard of, ask them to show you, or explain in more detail, or you may need to do your own research. Try to keep conversations broad, and value their opinions when they’re talking about what they enjoy doing, to show that you are interested in all aspects of their online world.
Talk early and often
The most effective way to deal with any online issue is to make conversations about the internet a part of your everyday routine.
Talking openly about life online from an early age, can be a helpful bridge to sharing safety messages and addressing more difficult conversations at a later date; it also shows your child that you are someone who knows about the internet and can help them.
Create a safe space for conversations
Look for opportunities to talk together. Sometimes, talking face-to-face can feel difficult, so talking alongside each other when out for a walk, or travelling in the car for example, are options that might make it easier.
The environment needs to be right; free from distractions, so that your child has your undivided attention. Remind them often that they can talk to you about anything, no matter how difficult, and that they will not be judged or blamed.
Your child might not be ready to talk about something straight away, so show them that you are there to listen whenever they are ready.
Keep it relevant
As they get older, your children will use technology differently from when they first went online. Their knowledge and understanding will grow too, as will the challenges they may face on the internet.
To get a sense of how much they know and what support they still need, ask open-ended questions to let your child lead the conversations you have.
There are appropriate ways to approach all online safety topics with different ages. For example, with a teenager, nude images can be spoken about in wider conversations around consent and healthy relationships. For younger children, you could discuss what types of images are okay to share online, and what areas of our bodies are private.
Working together to create an agreement, outlining how the internet and technology will be used within the family, is a useful way to set clear expectations and boundaries for your children.
You might include time spent online; who your children can communicate with; appropriate apps and games; and why safety tools are helpful to block and report inappropriate content.
Ask your child what they would do if something went wrong online and they needed help, and reinforce the importance of telling an adult as soon as anything happens that makes them feel upset, worried, or uncomfortable in any way.
How to make a report
It is important to know how to make a report, so that you know where to go and what to do if your child is upset or worried about something they have seen online.
There are many places you can go to report and get help for yourself and your child, as well as receive ongoing support and reassurance from experts.
Here are some best practices for parents and carers, followed by a list of places to turn to:
Know when to report
If you or your child has seen something online that is illegal, upsetting or harmful, then it is always best to report it.
Report to the correct place
Depending on the content, reports need to go to specific places for the correct support. See below for a list.
Understand community guidelines
Many online platforms will have their own community guidelines when it comes to harmful online content.
Make sure you are familiarised with the platform so you when the community guidelines are violated you know when to make a report.
If you have made an unsuccessful report but still feel it violates community standards, you can then visit Report Harmful Content for further escalation and review.
Ignoring a piece of harmful online content can lead towards others experiencing this type of harm.
Encourage discussion around the importance of children and young people reporting upsetting content to a parent, carer, or trusted adult.
Where you can report to
Report Harmful Content
You can go to Report Harmful Content to find out how to report across some of the most well-known social media sites and other popular online platforms.
If you have found that a platform’s community guidelines have been violated but your report was rejected, you can head to Report Harmful Content for further escalation and review.
How to talk about difficult topics
As your children get older, wanting more freedom online is natural. There will soon come a time when they’re using the internet independently on a daily basis, for example when it comes to researching homework or for interacting with friends. Children and young people may also use the internet to seek answers to questions that they’re not comfortable talking about with an adult, and this can raise the need to have conversations about some difficult topics.
Often these conversations can be planned for, but with online content being so accessible, occasionally they may be needed earlier than anticipated. Talking about serious issues can be a daunting prospect, but it’s important to remember that as parents and carers you are the best people for your children to talk to.
If you need to talk about something difficult with your child, try to:
Plan what you want to say in advance, and seek support and information if needed so that you feel prepared.
Choose a moment when there are no other distractions and you are not rushed for time, but acknowledge that they might not feel ready to speak straight away.
Consider the best approach to anticipate how your child might react. You might want to directly explain the concerns that led to the conversation, or feel that asking some broader questions might be more suitable in the first instance.
Give your child time to process what you are saying and share their thoughts, without interruption or blame. Listen carefully to any confusion or concerns.
Share your own experiences if you can. Were you ever in a similar situation and how was it resolved?
Reassure them you are always there to help and even if you don’t know the answers, you can find these out together.
Get support quickly if they need it. This might be from family, friends, your child’s school or other agencies.
My child has said something worrying – what do I do?
If your child comes to you with a concern, the most important thing is to remain calm and reassure them that they’ve done the right thing by talking to you. If you suspect, or find out from someone else that your child is dealing with a worrying situation online, let them know that sharing it with you is the first step to resolving the issue.
When dealing with an online concern raised by your child, try to:
Let them explain in their own words what has happened.
If you are feeling shocked, angry or worried, it’s likely that your child is feeling worse, but reacting that way may close down the conversation and lead your child to believe that they are to blame.
Acknowledge the challenges they have overcome, and let them know that they’ve done the right thing by telling you.
It’s okay if you are unsure what to do next, the important thing is to let your child know you are there for them. There is a lot of further support out there to help you decide on your next steps.
Save the evidence wherever possible.
You may be able to report what has happened to the online service being used when the incident occurred. Evidence may include screen shots taken on a laptop or mobile device, emails, texts or online conversation histories.
Make a report as soon as possible.
Knowing who to report to is a really useful step to resolving many issues, so try to familiarise yourself with the reporting, blocking or moderating settings available on the services your child is using. Depending on what has happened, it might be necessary to let your child’s school know too, or other agencies such as the police.