Child internet safety Internet safety for kids aged 11-16
This crucial time in a child’s development involves increased socialising, peer pressure, sexual experimentation, and the pushing of boundaries. It’s common for children to start looking at sexual content online – it’s up to the parent to determine how they manage the situation, but open and honest communication is key.
On social networking sites like MySpace or Bebo, children may post photographs of themselves; perhaps ones which could be deemed provocative. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) calls this ‘self-produced’ material, and it’s increasingly being seen on paedophiles’ hard drives.
‘These situations may well have been prevented if young users had been sufficiently empowered to stay in control of their personal information online, or recognise and take steps to protect themselves from risky engagement with suspicious contacts,’ Ceop’s report on the subject says. Even if only friends can see them, they should remember that any images they post online can be copied, altered and forwarded around by others.
Teenagers’ competency at using the internet is high at this age, so if they do encounter any unwanted contact online, they are encouraged to report the incident directly to Ceop using its report abuse facility.
Cyber bullying is another major concern for this age group. ‘The key thing is being able to talk to your child about what is going on in their lives,’ says John Carr, internet consultant at children’s charity Action for Children.
‘Every parent knows how hard that can be sometimes.
‘The child being bullied needs to be reassured that it’s not their fault, and that something can be done about it that won’t make matters worse for them, and the bully needs to know both about the harm he or she is doing – this is definitely not a joke – and about the risks they are running in terms of getting in serious trouble with the law and their school.’
You can also learn more about child internet safety in our guide to parental control software, which can help you regulate your child's internet use.