Keeping Safe During the Festivities

It’s that time of year again when twinkling lights and visits to Santa just don’t cut it anymore. Every child across the UK and beyond wants to use and be seen with the latest tech. This can be daunting for any family, and in all the excitement of unboxing and setting up gadgets, safety is the one thing that’s forgotten.

There’s an abundance of games, apps and websites that become accessible, whether it’s someone’s first step into the world of mobile phones or simply getting the latest gadget to keep up with friends and relatives.

So what do we do? In all the excitement, how do we make our children aware of the safety issues? As a parent and a Guru for O2, this is something I think about every day while watching the world of technology evolve. Safety is of the utmost importance and there are some great tools at our disposal. One simple word helps me through the whole process and that is TAG (Talking, Action and Guidance).

Talking

Studies from the NSPCC have shown that simply talking to your child about online safety is one of the most effective ways to keep them safe. Most children will have asked for some sort of technology that connects to the internet and has options to add friends and chat online. However, before fulfilling their Christmas wish, it’s vital to have a conversation with them about online safety.

It can be a hard subject to broach, but it’s important to ask them what they know about the product and have an open and honest conversation about potential dangers. This is a great way to build trust and it means your child will feel they can talk to you if they have come across inappropriate content.

It’s also a great way for parents and children to learn together. Let them ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask them questions too. Increasingly, children will have done their own research and may know more than the adult themselves!

Action

We often hear parents say “I have no clue about technology and what the product does, but my child really wants it for Christmas”.

The NSPCC have some great hints and tips online and they also have a helpline in conjunction with O2 that can be used as a great tool to action parental controls. It also improves your knowledge, so these measures can effectively be put into place.

As parents, our learning and understanding is just as important to keep our children safe online. As an O2 Guru, part of my job is to set up and educate parents on the importance of online safety, and this free service is available in stores throughout the UK.

Christmas is a busy time for everyone but taking half an hour to educate yourself can make a massive difference. Would you know what to look out for and how to spot the signs?

  • Do you or your child know the age rating of an app/game?
  • Do you know what the app is?
  • Do you know how to check their search history?
  • Does the game/app have a chat function?

All of these are terrifying questions when you don’t know the answers, but by simply visiting the sites below you will become better educated and find all the information you need.

Guidance

The last part is the most important, by listening to your child and learning about the technology yourself, you will be able to guide your child through the world of technology.  This will help establish trust and your child will understand that you are not spying on their online activity but are simply there to keep them safe.

So here’s to a happy technology filled Christmas and an ‘appy new year, safe in the knowledge that we can provide the right information to keep our children safe.

O2 and NSPCC want to help your family enjoy the best of the digital world safely and confidently. To help, we’ve put lots of useful information on our website. Or if you would prefer to speak to someone, call our online safety advice helpline, visit o2.co.uk/nspcc or call 0808 800 5002. Lines are open from 9am to 7pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 6pm on weekends and will be free of charge.

The NSPCC helpline is open 24 hours a day, ready to give support and advice to any adult who’s worried about a child. Call 0800 800 5000, visit nspcc.org.uk/help, email help@nspcc.org.uk