The online world is a necessity for many children in accessing schoolwork and it enables us to stay connected to family and friends. However, you may feel concerned about the content your child is has access to. Risks associated with increased online activity Although rare, there is a risk through increased online activity any feelings of stress and isolation may be exploited by negative influences, and online groomers of all kinds, to target vulnerable children and young people directly. An understanding of digital safety will help parents and carers safeguard loved ones from a range of harms, such as: child sexual exploitation fraud extremist influences seeking to radicalise vulnerable people Steps you can take to keep your child safe online If you have downloaded new apps, bought new technology to help stay connected, or if you or your child has signed up to a new online service you should review and adjust privacy and safety settings. The Government has encouraged internet service providers to allow parents to easily filter content to put you in control of what your child can see online. You can switch on family friendly filters to help prevent age inappropriate content being accessed on devices in your home. The UK Safer Internet Centre provides guidance on how to do this. Internet Matters has also provided step by step guides on how to setup parental controls. More information is included in the ‘Further Resources’ section. Signs that a child may be being exploited online Online exploitation is a complex issue and so is often hard to recognise. When it comes to being drawn into extremist ideas online, sometimes there are clear warning signs, in other cases the changes are less obvious. Although some of these traits may be quite common among teenagers, taken together they could be indicators that your child may need some help: Exploring new and unusual websites, chat forums and platforms. Harmful influences may push individuals towards platforms with a greater degree of anonymity. Joining new or secret groups since isolation. Speaking with new friends or being secretive about chats during online gaming or in forums. A strong desire to seek new meaning, identity and purpose. Using language you wouldn’t expect them to know. Watching, sharing or creating films online linked to religious, political or racial hate. Becoming increasingly argumentative or refusing to listen to different points of view. Concerned that a loved one is being exploited online The above are merely signs that they might need help, but you know your child best and you will want to speak with them first. Check in with them and ask about what they are viewing, who they are speaking to and how they are feeling. This might feel difficult, but here are some tips to help you: Listen carefully to their fears and worries - read some advice from the NHS here. Avoid explanations that could be interpreted as antagonistic, belittling or frightening. If they are finding it hard to cope with bereavement and grief - read advice from the NHS here. Help available if a child being exploited online It is important to safeguard loved ones from a range of online harms, whether that’s child sexual exploitation, fraud, or extremist influences seeking to radicalise vulnerable people. If you are concerned that your child may be at risk of radicalisation, help is available to make sure they get the support they need to move away from harmful influences. Teachers, healthcare practitioners, social workers, the police, charities, psychologists and religious leaders work together to safeguard those vulnerable to radicalisation through a safeguarding programme known as Prevent. Prevent protects people from being drawn into hateful extremism – regardless of the ideology. It works in a similar way to safeguarding processes designed to protect people from gangs, drug abuse, and physical and sexual exploitation. Receiving support through Prevent is voluntary, confidential and not any form of criminal sanction. It will not show up on any checks or negatively affect an individual’s future in any way. The type of support available is wide-ranging, and can include help with education or careers advice, dealing with mental or emotional health issues, or digital safety training for parents; it all depends on the individual’s needs. With this specialist help, vulnerable people across the country have moved away from supporting hateful extremism, enabling them to live more stable and fulfilling lives. Support and advice for a loved one being radicalised As with other safeguarding functions, Prevent is here to support families in times of need. If you are worried that a loved one is being radicalised, you can call the police on 101 to get advice or share a concern so that they can get safeguarding support. Alternatively, you can contact your local authority safeguarding team for help. Contacting the authorities will not get the individual into trouble if a criminal act hasn’t been committed. The local authority or police will discuss your concerns, suggest how they can best help and give you access to relevant support and advice. If you think someone is in immediate danger, or if you see or hear something that may be terrorist-related, trust your instincts and call 999 or the confidential Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321. What to do if you have seen concerning hateful content online that could cause harm Prevent takes robust action to tackle radicalisation online and to counter the ideology promoted by extremists. This includes removing terrorist-related material and action to suspend the accounts of those fuelling these views. Members of the public can report terrorist content they find online through the GOV.UK referral tool. The Action Counters Terrorism campaign provides more information on this. Further resources Check out these resources to help you understand and protect your child from different harms online: Educate Against Hate: Parents’ Hub provides resources and government advice for parents and carers on keeping young people safe from extremism. Let’s Talk About It provides support for parents and carers to keep children safe from online radicalisation. UK Safer Internet Centre has guides on the privacy settings, parental controls and internet safety features of the major internet service providers. Parent Zone works with Prevent to provide digital safety advice for parents. Thinkuknow provides resources for parents and carers to help keep children safe online. Childnet has developed guidance for parents and carers to begin a conversation about online safety, and on keeping under-fives safe online. Parent Info provides digital support and guidance for parents and carers from leading experts and organisations NSPCC guidance for parents and carers is designed to help keep children safe online. Its Net Aware website, produced in collaboration with O2, provides specific safety information on popular apps and websites. Childline can provide advice and support if your child is worried, from dialling 0800 1111 or downloading the ‘For Me’ app. This list of online education resources for home education includes resources to support your child’s mental wellbeing.