A MAJOR survey by the NSPCC has revealed that the majority of children feel they are not protected when using social media sites.

Parents are being told it is now ‘vital’ to talk regularly to their children about their online world and take an active role in safeguarding them.

But for many busy mums and dads it is difficult to know where to start. Worried parents can feel powerless in the face of such a fast-changing media.

An NSPCC survey of 1,696 young people aged 11 to 18 found that 1,380 – or 80 per cent – say they are routinely confronted by shocking content.

Whether you’re an online expert or not sure where to start the NSPCC’s four key tips for parents are: explore the online world together with your child; talk to your child about staying safe online; manage the software and tools your family use and agree rules about what’s ok and what’s not.

Hampshire mum Stella James, creator of Gooseberry Planet, says she was moved to take action in order to protect her own children.

Gooseberry Planet is an online resource for parents and schools. It also has a computer game children can play, as a way of learning about online hazards.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless has stated it is now ‘vital’ parents know about their online world.

 

A charity spokesman said: “When online, children and young people can learn new things, get help with homework, express themselves creatively and connect with friends and family.

“There are also risks, but by understanding and talking about the dangers you can help keep your child safe online.”

The NSPCC website has an online News page to keep you up-to-date with emerging sites, apps, games and online trends. There is also hotline for parents wanting direct advice on specific concerns.

Visitors to www.gooseberryplanet.com will find a news section warning of trends and training courses for parents.

Stella said: “We are still teaching children in a very traditional manner, with the teacher or policeman standing at the board, telling the children what they should and shouldn’t do.

“I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but times have changed. We need to engage with our children in a better way, and what a more perfect way to engage with our children than to actually give them a game.

“If this game can save one child from being groomed or sexually exploited, then it has achieved my goal.”

 

The NSPCC’s website can be found at  www.nspcc.org.uk
You can speak to an expert advisor on its free O2 NSPCC
Online Safety Helpline tel: 0808 800 5002.

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