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What young people love are the interactive services on the internet such as games, chat, peer to peer (that’s file sharing websites where they download music) and Instant Messenger (sometimes called MSN). However, these features are not generally used in schools and many parents have no idea how these services work or what children are up to when using them.

www.chatdanger.comChildnet has produced a special website especially for parents and chat users called This is an excellent website if you want to understand how chat works, consider the risks of online communication, as well as identify what makes a good chatting service. Childnet recommend looking through the site with your child and then asking them to show you the kind of chat they use. In this way you can check whether the services are moderated or private and whether your child has grasped the importance of the safety messages.

Your Children

"telling my kids about the net can seem like rocket science" - "relax! you don't have to be a scientist to know you need safety devises in a rocket!"You will know your child better than anyone else. It is therefore up to you to decide what aspects of the internet your child uses at home. However ,depending on the age of the child - and their maturity - there are really important safety issues you should discuss with your child NOW!

There are two main challenges when sitting down to talk about this subject with your children:

  • The first is that you might feel intimidated because your child may know more about the subject matter than you - don't be put off. Your wisdom is very different from your child's knowledge of how something works!
  • The second is that if you simply make a list of things children are not allowed to do online, without properly talking about the consequences, or proposing alternatives you can inadvertently make these restricted areas even more attractive (remember when you were a child wanting to do what was prohibited!)

It is best therefore to sit down with your children and talk about the issues before there is a problem.

  • General Advice: Childnet's SMART rules have been especially written in a positive way. They reinforce that kids can be SMART online and help to instil a sense of personal responsibility. They are a good starting point for the 5 main principles for any child or adult to remember when using the internet or mobile phone. It’s a great idea to work with your children to develop your own family set of SMART rules – that you will all stick to.
  • Specific Advice: Childnet recognise that some risks are specific to certain aspects of the internet. Childnet are developing a range of fact sheets to address these issues. Our fact sheets below are intended to give you more detailed advice and guidance on particular issues to assist safe and effective internet use.

See Childnet's fact sheets for more information.

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