How to help your child stay safe online, set up parental controls, report cyberbullying and what sexting and online grooming are.
The internet is a great tool for children and young people with SEND to be part of a community. Your child can have a great time online as long as they follow some simple safety rules.
As a parent, you can help them understand how to stay safe when online.
Online and mobile safety
Disabled people might be more vulnerable to online abuse. Resources on staying safe include:
- Safe Surfing training modules on the Mencap website
- safety tips by age groups and advice for parents and carers on the Thinkuknow website
- online and mobile safety tips from Childline
- advice from internet matters for parents and carers to help children and young people with SEND be safe online
- Short videos by educational psychologist Dr Mary:
- Too much screen time part 1: Find the purpose of screen time Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Si0MbaRsQAc (opens new window)
- Too much screen time part 2: Balance Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9LAxSyaewo (opens new window)
- The Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership has resources about online safety Go to https://bristolsafeguarding.org/children/support-for-families/online-safety/ (opens new window)
Parental controls help protect children from inappropriate content they may come across online.
The Childnet website explains how you can set up parental controls in different places such as:
- your home WiFi
- mobile devices such as mobile phones and tablets
- websites such as YouTube and BBC iPlayer
Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that happens on social media, online games and mobile phones.
It can be:
- sending mean emails, texts or instant messages
- posting hurtful things or spreading rumours about someone on social media
- taking an embarrassing photo or video and sharing it without permission
You can find information on how to deal with cyberbullying on social networks or mobile phones on the Bullying UK website. They have an online forum where you can share stories with others going through the same problems.
The GOV.UK website has links to support sites and how to report bullying, including online bullying, to the police.
Sexting is the exchange of sexually explicit words, photos or videos by email, text message, online forums or any messenger app. It's against the law for anyone to take or have a sexual photo of anyone under 18, even a selfie someone's taken and sent to you.
The Childline website has information on what sexting is and:
- how to block and report explicit messages
- what the law says
- what to do if a young person is asked for or has received explicit photos and videos
You can download the Zipit app from the Childline website, which can help users to deal with flirty conversations.
Grooming is when someone builds an online relationship with a young person and tricks them into doing something sexual.
You can contact the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command (CEOP) if you suspect something is happening or has happened.
Operation Topaz is the Avon and Somerset Police initiative to combat child exploitation, including child sexual exploitation online. You can report concerns online Go to https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/report/ (opens new window). You can also contact Avon and Somerset Police to arrange training for staff, or workshops for children in a school or community venue.