It was a hoax this time!

It's a scary world out there!

Although the recent Momo challenge is now being reported as a hoax, the reports, warnings and disturbing images have caused distress to children and parents alike.  Hoax or not, it has nonetheless highlighted the power of the internet, particularly social media, and how it is more important than ever that parents talk regularly to their children about their on-line activities and how they can help them to stay safe but still have fun. Remember that the hype around these crazes, true or not, often leads children to investigate for themselves.

  • Let your children know that, just like the real world, there are safe and unsafe things on the internet. Explain that there are often things that happen online that can be misleading or frightening and that some things are designed to get a lot of attention.
  • Talk about what personal information they should share online, even with friends. Advise them to create different passwords for different sites.
  • Try to avoid having your children use the computer or device whilst hidden away. It is best to install a computer in a family room with the screen facing outwards.
  • Do read website and app ratings before allowing your children to visit or download them. Why not explore popular sites and apps together.
  • Let your children know that it is absolutely the right thing to do to tell you, a teacher or another adult they trust if they are not happy about something they’ve seen or been asked to do online.
  • Ask your children not to download files (music, games, screensavers) or buy or install software or apps without asking. Turning off in-app purchasing capabilities on all devices should help.
  • Install parental control software to restrict the sites your children can access and limit them from sharing sensitive information, such as name, age, address, phone number etc. Should your children accidentally access an unsuitable website, delete it from the ‘history’ folder and add the address to the Parental Control Filter List.
  • Use the built-in security and safety features within your browser. Set high security and privacy settings for social networking sites, such as Facebook. Switch off or adjust settings using GPS or location tracking – many apps and social networking sites use software to locate where the user is.
  • Install internet security software on all devices and update it regularly.

For further advice, we recommend the following websites:

http://www.kidsmart.org.uk/

http://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/online-safety

mother and girl on computer

Philip Brooks