We have recently had a couple of concerns brought to our attention surrounding children’s online safety. This is something that is a danger to all children who access the internet - be it through a mobile phone, laptop or tablet. An attitude of 'it could be me' must be taken and adults must remain vigilant.
The police have highlighted an increase in reports of children talking to and exchanging pictures with strangers online. Videochat websites and apps like Skype, Instagram, Omegle, Oovoo, Kik, and others, allow children to talk and exchange pictures on tablets and Smartphones or via a webcam. Whilst talking on webcam with known and trusted friends and family can be fun and exciting, children can be at risk of bullying and also abuse. Children and young people sharing pictures and videos online are vulnerable to exploitation. This can happen in the following way:
This has happened to young people and is being reported countrywide, with children of both Primary and Secondary school age. This is sexual abuse.
What to do if this happens
When a child tells a parent they have experienced on or offline sexual abuse parents should react calmly and always:
How to stop it happening
Roblox is a particularly popular game, especially as it enables children to connect with and talk with their friends. I do wish to make you aware though that there are children who have been groomed and abused via this games. I would emphasise the following points to make the use of the game as safe as possible.
Make sure you check in with your child regularly about who they’re talking to.
Remind them that conversations should only be about the game, and if someone starts asking them other questions or suggests they speak using another app like Snapchat or Instagram they should tell you.
Explore safety settings together like block, report and mute so your child knows how to stop unwanted contact or end an online chat if it's not about the game.
Be aware that some children use third party chat apps like Discord to communicate with other players while gaming. Make sure to ask your child if they’re using any other messaging apps to chat with friends or people they don’t know while playing games online.
Please take a look at the guide for parents - Roblox: A guide for parents (net-aware.org.uk)
If you are worried that your child is at risk of harm or a criminal offence has been committed then you can report your concerns to Nottinghamshire Police or the MASH MASH factsheet for parents and carers v2 (primarysite-prod-sorted.s3.amazonaws.com) . For further advice visit www.nspcc.org.uk/onlinesafety, www.childnet.com, www.internetmatters.org.uk or www.thinkuknow.co.uk