Making it safe to surf
There are always ways in which you can help to protect your child on-line and ensure that the internet is a safe way to learn and have fun. Ask your internet service provider (ISP) or local computer specialist about installing parental controls which can prevent your child accessing websites with sexual content. These methods cannot provide a total safeguard but do offer some protection.
It is important to learn all you can about the internet. In the same way that you would teach your child about the dangers from strangers, warn your child about the dangers on the internet and lay down some ground rules regarding the time they spend on-line. If possible, avoid your child going on-line in private, or at least ensure you have access to their computer. Make sure that they know they should never arrange to meet a new friend made on the internet without a trusted adult present. Watch out for possible signs of exploitation or abuse. Some of these signs are often completely innocent, but look out for changes in your child’s mood or behaviour, sleep disturbances or bedwetting, unexplained marks, problems at school, going missing or self harm, asking about sexual experiences and terminology or evidence of pornographic material. Be especially aware of any new friendships between your child and older people, whether male or female. If your child does experience some form of exploitation, whether mild or severe, it is crucial to be 100% supportive, make it clear that it is not their fault and that you are there to help and protect them no matter what.