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Parents get cyber-savvy in 2015

29th December 2014

New online safety classes for families.

Parents and carers concerned about keeping their children safe online will be able to take part in new hands-on training sessions.

The pilot, created in a partnership between anti-bullying service respectme and the Scottish Government, will guide even the most technophobic users through the most popular social media sites and how to make sure their children's pictures and postings are as safe as possible.

Unveiling how to sign up for the classes, which will be offered at various locations across the Central Belt, Minister for Learning Alasdair Allan also reiterated general advice for staying safe online - regardless of your age.

Dr Allan said: "In all of the work that the Children's Minister and I have done on promoting Online Safety over the last couple of years it has been really clear that parents, grandparents and carers very often feel out of their depth when it comes to the internet.

"I would encourage any parent who feels that they could benefit from learning more to see if there are classes near them that they could sign up for. These sessions being run by respectme will allow more adults to discover the huge benefits from being online and give them the confidence to speak to their children about going online and encourage them to speak to you about any concerns they have.

"A lot of people of all ages will have been delighted to receive new tablets, phones or laptops for Christmas which makes it the perfect time to go over some of the key tips to guide you in staying safe online and where you can turn for advice."

The classes will initially run between January and April. They are free and should ideally be arranged in conjunction with your local school or parent council. You can register interest at enquire[AT]respectme.org.uk.

Brian Donnelly, Director of respectme said: "This presents parents and carers with a great chance to firm up their understanding of social media and how it is used by children and young people. Parents have always wanted to make sure their children are safe and informed wherever they are and wherever they go. This includes when their children go online and these classes can help improve parents' confidence and skills in relation to this."

Some advice for staying safe online:

Talk about it
There's no better way to protect your children than by talking to them about what they do online, how they are connecting with others and if they know how to stay safe. They will already be learning about online safety and behaviour at school so why not start by asking them what they already know and what their favourite websites are? Adults need to know where young people are going online, just as they do if they’re going to a physical space. It is important to stay connected and talk to your child about how they are using social media - keep talking to them and listening so they know you take it seriously.

Don’t give out too much information
Be careful about revealing personal information on social networking sites and ensure that your children are making use of the privacy settings available on the sites. Talk to your child about what information they share online and with whom - would they feel OK with their family seeing what they have shared?

Take advantage of parental controls
There are a range of parental controls you can use to help protect children from accessing inappropriate content online. There’s more advice on the different kinds of controls available at www.saferinternet.org.uk

Know where to get support
Parents and other adults need a proper understanding of what the digital landscape really looks like, where they can turn for advice and who will support them if they need to take action. If something does happen to your child, such as bullying online, there are lots of places to get support. These include:
respectme -
Parentline, and
CEOP

Encourage responsible communication and safe use
Remind your child that online relationships are no different from relationships off-line and that they should be respectful and polite and never give away any personal information. Think about setting up a code of conduct with your child, similar to what you will have at work. This is an agreement about how smart phones, laptops or other devices are used and what will happen if they are misused. Discuss this with your child so they are clear about what they can and cannot do. Although it is worthwhile talking about your child’s rights when using technology, it is also important to discuss the responsibilities that come with these.

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