Reading today’s Sun, you might well be worried if your kids are on FaceBook, but taking their laptop away is probably not going to be the correct response, as they’ll simply find another way to get online which is less under your control than what they are doing now e.g. using their phone, a mates laptop or an internet cafe.
I can say this with some confidence despite having no children of my own, as I have just spent the day learning how to be a volunteer trainer for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre.
If you can spare a minute at this point watch this CEOP authorised video..
Although CEOP is a government body (affiliated to the Serious Organised Crime Agency – SOCA) it also has an industry partnership involving Visa, O2 and Microsoft among others. We get to help in a number of ways including training as many children as possible to be able to be safe on line.
This is all about making sure children can have fun using the internet, have control of their online personas, and know what to do to report any abuse such as clicking on this logo..
e.g. Windows Live Messenger.
and Facebook, and many other sites.
There is a public web site where you can find out more, ThinkUKnow which you can point your kids to and learn a little more yourself.
The other thing you can do is ensure your kids get this training at school by asking the school to lay this on. They will have a CEOPS nominated teacher who can arrange this, and then a volunteer like me comes in to do this. BTW we all have to go through the whole criminal record check process just as anyone does who works with children.
Separately Microsoft also has volunteers to run similar sessions for parents which also encompasses the issues around cyber-bullying and if that’s of interest to you please get back to me.
To wrap up the internet is a force for good, it should be fun for you and your children, which IMO means that what you do on line should be the same as what you do off line.