Parents need to talk to their children about digital dangers, the UK’s leading children’s charity Barnardo’s has said.
As children enjoy the six-week summer break they may spend more time on the internet and social media than they would during the school term.
Barnardo’s has warned that, while there is a lot of child-friendly content online, danger can also lurk on the internet and children are particularly susceptible to online grooming.
Research by the children’s charity revealed almost half of young people living at home said their parents only know some of what they do online.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:
“Dangers lurk online just as they do in the real world and at Barnardo’s we know first-hand how children are particularly at risk of online grooming and sexual exploitation.
“Children are very susceptible to being groomed, especially through social media and messaging apps, and can quickly be manipulated into potentially harmful situations, including sexually abusive ones.
“Feeling safe in their bedrooms at home, they make friends with people they meet on social media, through chat apps and in multiplayer games, and often don’t think of them as strangers, or see the risks they might pose.
“It’s crucial parents are aware of the dangers their children face online and talk to them about how they can keep themselves safe, particularly in the summer holidays when children may be spending more time online than usual.”
Parents can equip themselves with the knowledge to start having conversations with their children about online safety by reading Barnardo’s Be Safe Guide.
Children’s internet use has continued to increase, with five to 15 year-olds spending an average of 15 hours each week online. 90% of households in Great Britain have internet access.
Barnardo’s recommends parents talk to their children about relationships and help them to understand the implications of sending explicit material by explaining that nothing they want kept private should be sent by text message or posted online.