One of our top cyber investigators has shared his handy hacks to making sure your child and their devices stay safe over the next few weeks.
Detective Constable Dave Kernaghan has been a digital media investigator in our Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) for the past five years – the team which tirelessly pursues dangerous offenders and safeguards their victims.
He also works very closely with parents, delivering inputs on how they can stay ahead of the curve making sure they understand the potential risks and are equipped with the right knowledge and tools.
“Parents shouldn’t be afraid of the internet or assume they won’t be able to understand the websites and the apps their children use,” explained Det Cons Kernaghan.
“It’s likely that over the next few weeks, your children will start to experiment and try out new social media sites and platforms as they look for new ways to connect so make sure you ask them which platforms they are using.
“Most young people will have no concept of the risks out there – they’ve grown up with smartphones and don’t differentiate between the online world and real life – it’s all the same to them so you need to adapt your approach. Just like you wouldn’t let your child go out unsupervised, miles away from home with people you’ve never met and never heard of, you shouldn’t be OK with your child doing this online.
“In my experience, a lot of parents have been unaware that their child has been targeted because they have playing innocently in another room, so make sure you know when your child is online and talk to them about their activity – chances are they won’t even know if they have been exploited.
“It might seem really daunting but it’s all about having open communication with your child – there are so many positive ways to use the internet and their smartphone during this time and so many great resources to look at if you need more help.”
- Make sure your child only accepts friend request from people they know in the real world
- Make sure they add you as a friend so you can see their activity and friends list
- Make sure their social media pages are not open for the public to see
- Do not let your children have an account if they are younger than the age restriction.
- Many apps such as TIKTOK, KIK, Wickr and Liveme will pass parental controls and will not protect children from inappropriate content within the apps
- Talk to your child about what is acceptable behaviour on live streams
For further practical advice you can visit CEOP or NSPCC.
NCSC Website - Advice on digital cyber security (hacking, malware etc.)
Get Safe Online - Advice on all types of cyber security (cyber bullying, cyber stalking etc.)
Internet Matters - Advice on social media, apps & device security settings
Think U Know - Advice on all types of cyber security (cyber bullying, cyber stalking etc.)