Only around half of UK parents and carers regularly talk to their child about possible risks on the internet, according to a new survey by National Online Safety.
In our poll of more than 1,100 parents and carers in the UK, just 54% said that they have a conversation with their child about staying safe online at least once a month.
Additionally, more than 1 in 5 parents (18%) told us that they NEVER speak to their young ones about the potential hazards of the digital world.
Most parents naturally have frequent catch-ups with their child about how things are going at school or what’s happening in their friendship groups, for example – but that dialogue often doesn’t extend to youngsters’ online activities.
Sensitive subjects... #awkward?
Adults might avoid those conversations for a variety of reasons: they could feel like their child is still too young, for example – or they might assume that children already know about online safety, perhaps having been taught it at school. For the parents of teenagers, initiating ‘the chat’ about subjects like sexting, online pornography or sending explicit images can seem unbearably awkward.
Often, however, it’s simply the case that parents don’t feel they know enough themselves about online hazards to usefully guide and advise their children.
To help adults feel like they’ve got a firmer grasp of common online safety issues – and give them the knowledge to confidently speak to their child about it – we’ve produced four brand-new video training courses specifically catering for parents and carers.
Each video covers a major developmental stage (3–7 years; 7–11; 11–14; and 14–18), exploring how young people typically engage with the digital world at those ages, highlighting the type of online threats they face – from screen addiction to scams, and from explicit material to echo chambers – and suggesting practical ways to help children avoid them.
Get ready for Klass
Presented by musician and broadcaster (and celebrity mum) Myleene Klass, each course is packed with thought-provoking insights and practical suggestions to support you in protecting young ones when they’re online.
While Myleene hosts the video, the actual content has been put together by National Online Safety’s experts – so it’s up to date, professionally credible, and above all, super-useful.
We’ve structured the courses by age group, so each video is as relevant as possible to your child’s current online interests, from pre-schoolers through to sixth-formers and college kids – all delivered in an accessible, informal way. No unexplained jargon. No baffling technical tangents. Just the information you need, in short, memorable bite-size chunks.
“Just like with ‘real’ life, a lot of online safety boils down to talking to your kids,” says Myleene in the course. “You don’t have to be a tech guru, a Fortnite legend or an Instagram superstar. You just need to help your child collect the tools to keep themselves safe online.”
It's good to talk
Having regular chats with your child about what they enjoy doing on the internet – and, crucially, keeping that route of communication open – is one of the golden rules of good online safeguarding practice. That may sound disarmingly straightforward, but a little conversation can actually go a long way.
Something as simple as an honest, relaxed talk with your child can massively help them get to grips with online safety issues including in-app purchases; how people’s social media feeds aren’t an accurate reflection of their real lives; the importance of a positive digital footprint; and how (and why) to choose the right privacy settings for their accounts.
Whether your child’s an avid gamer, a social media butterfly, an online information sponge or a budding programmer, at some point they will inevitably encounter the more upsetting or harmful aspects of the internet. That’s just an unwelcome truth of the digital age.
Whatever their interests, whatever their age, we’ve got a course that can help you get up to speed, and stay there – so you can empower your child to protect themselves online.