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Online Safety​​​​​​​

This page has information for parents about how to keep your children safe online. Click on any of the links below to find out more about any of the topics mentioned.

Vodafone's Digital Parenting website has news, features and expert advice about how to keep your family happy and safe online.

AI Virtual Friends: Artificial intelligence is probably the hot topic in technology circles right now, with questions being raised worldwide about how AI might conceivably affect the very future of the human race. In the short term, however – definitely as far as its impact on young people is concerned – the clearest risk is almost certainly the AI-powered ‘virtual friends’ which are springing up all over the internet. Click on What Parents and Carers Needs to Know about AI Virtual Friends to find out whether these machine intelligences are suitable online companions for young people and what their limitations and weak spots are.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Solutions: It’s no surprise that AI is becoming big. Tech companies have been using it for a while and the spill over into mainstream society was inevitable. But where do AI solutions get their information from? Can they be trusted? And should we be embracing them? Click on What Parents and Carers Need to Know about Artificial Intelligence (AI) Solutions to find ways to prevent young people from using the technology blindly, from encouraging critical thinking skills to having an awareness of inherent bias.

Child Safety and the Metaverse: VR headsets, connected to Facebook’s Metaverse have been released onto the marketplace. The Metaverse seeks to link users to the internet as a Virtual Entity through the use of Virtual Reality Headsets. This amplifies the danger children are exposed to online. To help us understand this new, fast changing issue the NSPCC has published a guide to both the Metaverse and VR headsets.

Cyber Resilience: Criminals continue to find new and devious ways to attempt to hijack our online transactions and harvest our private information. To them, the smart devices that many of us now use as standard at home are simply a convenient back door into our lives – and our networks. Click on 12 Top Tips for Building Cyber Resilience at Home for advice on beefing up your household’s cyber resilience. In the guide you'll find tips on a number of potential risks such as how to use a password manager, how to back up your data and how to check for breaches.

Fortnite: Since its release 2017, the battle-royale simulator – Fortnite, has become incredibly popular. As a result, more children than ever are exposed to multi-player chatting with strangers, and financial exploitation via the game’s spend-to-gain-advantage operating style which allows children to use real world money to gain perks and costumes. This has led to criminal blackmailing, to the coercion of nude exchanges by online ‘friends’ posing as children. Read Fortnite Battle Royale — What Parents Need to Know to find out more.

Online Safety and Gaming: As children use multiplayer games and the internet more and more, it is more important than ever to make sure they are aware of how to stay safe online. Click on Online Safety and Gaming to find out how to best keep safe whilst using online software and games. There’s advice on reporting and blocking, online socialisation and online gaming.

The Positive Impact of Gaming: The negative effects of gaming on young people’s mental health (when the compulsion to play begins to interfere with regular activities like homework, exercise or socialising) are well documented. In recent years however, there’s been a groundswell of research making a contrasting point – that safe, healthy amounts of gaming can actually help to improve mental wellbeing. Click on 10 Ways Gaming Can Support Positive Outcomes for tips on how safe, healthy gaming can offer more than just an enjoyable leisure activity for children.

Setting Up Apps, Games and Software: Millions of new phones, tablets, laptops and games consoles will be nestling under Christmas trees this year. However, even if parents and carers have gone to the trouble of setting up these new devices and enabling the safety features, there are still potential hazards in the apps, games and software that children will want to install and use. Knowing what to look for and discussing those risks with your child may help avoid any nasty surprises this Christmas. Here are our top tips for ensuring that unwrapping this year’s presents doesn’t unleash any unexpected dangers. In the What Parents and Carers Need to Know About Setting Up Apps, Games and Software guide, you'll find tips such as disabling in-app purchasing, take note of age ratings and watching out for imitators.

Social Media and Mental Health: An estimated one-third of children have a social media account, so it’s important that trusted adults know what content young people are consuming, what they’re posting and the interactions they’re having. On social media, it can be easy to go down a rabbit hole that isn’t beneficial to our wellbeing. As platforms grapple with managing ‘legal but harmful’ content, lives are being impacted – sometimes to tragic effect. We might be daunted by the scale of the tech giants and their content which enthrals young people, but we can still help children to be mindful of their mental wellness: recognising when something isn’t OK … and knowing what to do about content that upsets them. In the What Parents Need to Know about Social Media and Mental Health guide, you'll find tips such as how to hide content, setting daily limits and discussing what children have seen online.

Staying Safe on New Devices: Whether you’re an internet newbie or a pro at surfing the web, it’s always important to keep online safety in mind. We’ve pulled together a list of top tips to make it easier for you to protect yourself and your devices in the digital world - helping you steer clear of hazards like misleading information and vicious viruses. There’s never a bad time to refresh your internet safety knowledge, but it’s an especially smart thing to do before you start using any shiny new devices! In the Stay Safe on New Devices guide, you'll find tips such as double-checking your news sources, taking breaks from being online and not sharing personal information.

Tips for Encouraging Open Discussions about Digital Lives: Most families frequently chat with their child about how things are going at school or what’s happening in their friendship groups – but those discussions often doesn’t extend to youngsters’ online activities. In fact, National Online Safety conducted a recent survey which found that only slightly more than half (54%) of parents regularly talk to their children about staying safe online. It can be an awkward topic to broach and, of course, it needs not to feel intrusive. However, just checking in with your child about their digital life can get them thinking about online safety and alert you to any issues they might be having. In the Tips for Encouraging Open Discussions about Digital Lives guide you'll find a number of useful tips such as being as honest as possible, discussing how misleading the online world can be and creating a ‘family agreement’.

World of Warcraft: Originally released in 2004, World of Warcraft was an instant critical and commercial success. By 2010 it had become the most popular MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) ever, peaking at 12 million subscribers worldwide. Warcraft encourages players to communicate when tackling quests – but this, of course, also leaves the door open for less friendly interactions. Even if younger players opt to avoid online audio chat, the in-game text system can still leave them vulnerable to receiving abusive messages and spam. Click on What Parents Need to Know About World of Warcraft to find out how other online human players pose far more of a risk to young Warcraft heroes than the game’s legions of orcs, goblins and dragons.

Page reviewed on 19/02/24 by KJD..