What behaviours/risks should parents and carers watch out for when it comes to browsing online?
Taking risks is a natural aspect of children’s development and should be supported. Risk-taking increases as children get older. Protection from risk through total isolation may not prepare children and young people for adult life. So, allowing risk-taking situations with oversight and supervision can help children build resilience and take ownership of decision making in a safer environment. Applying this concept to their internet activity and social media use is important to help them make safer choices online.
Any child or young person from any background can be at risk of online harm, but some are more susceptible to it than others. Children and young people in care may be more at risk or exhibit the following behaviours:
Poor social skills
Children and young people in care may have poor social skills. According to a report from the DfE, children and young people in care are three times more likely to have social, emotional and mental health needs compared to their peers. The anonymity and separation when browsing online can make it easier for them to take risks and say or do things they might not do in the real world (or offline).
Stumbling across age-inappropriate content can have a big impact on children and young people’s wellbeing. According to Online Safeguarding for Young People in Care, carers reported that 21% of children had experienced an incident of seeing inappropriate content online
Fake news and misinformation
Over-reliance on the information from websites and apps, without the necessary balance and objectivity, can lead to ‘fake news’ distorting attitudes, expectations, and behaviours.
Following web links promising a ‘juicy story’ (clickbait) or a ‘too good to be true’ offer without thinking these through can lead to malware (malicious software) and viruses being downloaded onto the device, and in some cases compromising the whole home network.
Privacy and data concerns
Speed and ease are of use are important to young people and this leads to shortcuts in aspects like password use. Often a pin code will be a date of birth when that date of birth is also posted on forums and social media sites or can be deduced from the posts they can contain. Password re-use across multiple sites combined with a lack of understanding of the risks can lead to account compromise, identity.
For more information on this topic, visit our Privacy and Identity Theft hub.