How to keep your children safe during the coronavirus lockdown

3 April 2020

It’s a tough time for everyone now, but especially parents and children. With schools and nurseries closed, there’s a lot of pressure on families as they spend more time together and with fewer avenues of support available if they need a hand.

We’re working hard to make sure our services are there when you need them. That’s why our confidential helpline and messaging service are still open, meaning you can get advice on the steps you can take to keep your children safe, and help if something goes wrong.

Changes to school and working life mean that children might be spending more time unsupervised or online, but there are plenty of ways you can help them stay safe. Here are our top tips.

1. Connection is the key to protecting your children. Use this time to really get to know your child, and their relationships online and offline. Encourage them to teach you how to use their social media platforms and have fun, make a funny video, use Snapchat filters and also ask them about any difficulties they have had and how they overcame them.

2. Talk about what they think is normal online and what to expect from others and themselves.

“You do need to be really careful…people say you can trust them but you just don’t know that.” A young person who spoke to us about their online experiences

3. Help them develop digital resilience – their ability to navigate the internet safely and ask for help when they need it. Encourage them to think critically and question what they see online. Talk to them about where they go to get information they trust, talk about fake news, fake followers and scams. Enable them to develop a healthy suspicion of the motives of others. Let them know they can ask you for help and you won’t panic or punish them. Show them how to report issues online – for example through CEOP or IWF.

4. Help them develop their emotional intelligence – share your knowledge and experience of initiating and maintaining relationships. For example, sometimes people seem nice at first and then they turn out to be mean. Let them know that you know this and that they can talk to you about it.

5. Lots of people worry about quantity of screen time, but there can be lots of positives about what your child is doing online – keeping in touch with friends and researching homework. What’s important is promoting quality screen time – the internet has plenty of fun activities and learning opportunities which are hugely beneficial for all ages.

Useful resources

Our Parents Protect website has plenty of information and resources on how to keep children safe from sexual abuse, including our family safety plan and SMART rules for parents and carers to share with children and each other, plus information on what to do if your child gets into trouble online. Some of these resources are also available in Welsh and you can visit our Scottish Upstream Project website for more child protection information and advice.

There are videos and guides available from the NSPCC website designed for parents and carers to use with young children to help keep them safe. The Pantosaurus video and The Underwear Rule teaches children that their body belongs to them and they have a right to say no.

CEOP has advice on how to keep children of all ages safe online, including when gaming, while at home during this period. They’ll be releasing new 15 minute home activity packs every fortnight to help you support your children’s online safety.

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