CHILDLINE ADVICE: Location and tracker update prompts fresh online warning
This week, I’d like to look once again at some of the support available to children and young people online.
The reason I’ve chosen this particular subject is because recently, police here in the North East have warned parents and carers of young or vulnerable people to speak to their children about staying safe online.
Their appeal followed an update to the popular app Snapchat which allows the exact location of users to be seen in real time and tracked over virtual maps.
While location services can be used to help parents and carers know where someone is for safety reasons, there is a concern that people on the app that the user has never met could use these changes to enable online abuse.
Childline counsellors are available around the clock to speak to children and young people in the North East and across the country who have any concerns or queries about their experiences online, and to offer support and advice wherever we can.
It’s also really helpful for parents and carers to have frequent open and honest discussions with their children about the types of apps, games, social media and online services that they are using, particularly as they’ll probably be spending more time online over the school holidays.
Ask your children who they are friends with online, who they follow, who follows them and make sure they know not to accept requests from strangers.
By checking they have strong privacy settings in place, you can also help ensure strangers can’t see their content or engage with them without permission.
Lots of parents might find it difficult to keep up with the latest online trends and apps, but by showing an interest in them with your children, they can help bring you up to speed.
The NSPCC has lots of advice and information on its Online Safety Hub at www.nspcc.org.uk/online-safety where you can find out how to check device settings to ensure your children are kept safer online.
And if children aren’t comfortable speaking to you about their online experiences, then there’s useful information for them on the Childline website, and our counsellors are available around the clock on 0800 1111.