On the way to school this morning I listened to Dr Tanya Byron talking about children and online safety. Ten years ago she was asked by government to look at this important area, and made a number of recommendations. The technology to look for patterns of behaviour that suggest grooming, or other inappropriate activity, is already in existence, and yet the big companies have not put this in place. Dr Byron suggested a voluntary agreement ten years ago. She explained this morning that the recommendations she made to government in 2008, and reviewed again in 2010, have not been actioned. They would mean a safer online environment for all children and young people, yet she feels that politicians are ‘dragging their feet’. Why?
There are a few instant measures that all parents can take to protect their children:
Privacy settings – ensure these are as high as possible on all devices and apps used by your children
Location settings – ensure these are turned off on all devices used by your children
Online games – only use under supervision, or (even better) in a closed group; online chat with strangers is risky.
Supervision – all online activity by children should happen openly at home, in a room used by all of the family and in plain sight. You don’t need to be looking over their shoulder, but having a good idea what they are doing – and even getting them to teach you about it – is sensible.
No devices in bedrooms; they should be ‘put to bed’ by parents no later than when children go to bed (turned off, or charging, somewhere else) – and ideally an hour beforehand (blue light is a stimulant and increases brain activity, which is not conducive to a good night’s sleep). A good rule for adults too?