`

Police chief urges parents to make sure their children are safe online during the summer holidays

Paddy Tipping wants parents to ensure their children use the internet safely this summer
Paddy Tipping wants parents to ensure their children use the internet safely this summer

Schools will soon close for the summer but the laptops and tablets will most definitely be switched on.

Times have changed and while we would all love our children to be exploring the countryside, playing sport and enjoying the great outdoors, the reality is they often prefer to bury their heads in a computer game or engross themselves in social media.

During the summer holidays, we can all expect our children to spend a little more time on the internet but as parents we need to work harder to protect them.

Whatever your rules and regulations for internet use at home, the important point is that you maintain control of it.

internet carries many risks, particularly to impressionable children and youths, and there are hidden dangers lurking around every corner.

Knowledge is power and if technology seems like another language to you, then now’s the time to learn that language.

If a complete stranger knocked at your door to talk to your child, would you let them in?

The answer, of course, is no.

The internet offers a platform for hiding true identities and this is why as parents we should be worried.

Naturally children will be up later during the summer months and if they’re spending that extra hour or two online, then as a priority ensure their safety.

Talk to your children about the dangers of sharing personal information on social media, the serious repercussions of so-called ‘sexting’, the risks of online bullying and of chatting to complete strangers who may not be who they say they are.

There’s a huge amount of advice and resources online to help including information about parental controls to restrict online content.

I’m a parent too and I know how difficult it is to keep up to date with the latest social media crazes.

It baffles me at times, but encouraging an open and honest relationship with your children can make it a lot easier.

Strike up that conversation.

Children exposed to inappropriate behaviour online may feel more comfortable communicating this to a parent if it’s a regular topic of discussion in the household.

It all comes down to education and empowering young people – and parents – to take responsibility for internet safety.

I wish you all a safe and happy summer.

If you would like more information visit: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre/parents-and-carers