Keeping kids safe online in the summer holidays

With kids spending more time on screens this year insurance giant Zurich has teamed up with internet experts to help parents keep their children safe online in the summer holidays

Child on computer

 

Working dads have been urged to keep an eye on their kids internet habits as we switch from homeschool to holidays.

With the government urging folk to go back to work there’s even more pressure on parents. Screen time can be a huge help in entertaining children.

But new research, commissioned by Zurich Insurance and Ineqe the online child protection experts, shows that children as young as seven are now spending almost three hours a week on average broadcasting live videos of themselves.  Instances of livestreaming amongst children increase by 17% once schools close and children have even more spare time.

The findings reveal:

  • Two fifths (40%) of children livestream to an audience of strangers. The increase in this trend can be attributed to the pressure of performing live on livestreaming apps such as Instagram Live, Facebook Live, HouseParty, YouTube and Twitch to an anonymous audience.
  • On average children livestream to an audience three times a week. One in five (21%) of these admit they chat to strangers online – equating to 680,000 children
  • Children as young as seven are now spending almost three hours a week on average broadcasting live videos of themselves
  • A tenth of livestreamers switch off parental controls. Alarmingly, a further tenth claim to have met offline with strangers who have contacted them whilst livestreaming
  • Almost three out of four (73%) children have a camera enabled device in their bedroom which could pose a serious risk

Risks

Tilden Watson, Head of Education at Zurich Municipal said: “School holidays represent a challenging time for parents as they struggle to balance work and childcare duties on top of the inevitable home work. It’s to be expected that children will probably spend a lot more time on devices. That’s why it’s crucial to sit down together and chat through the risks.

“We know around a tenth of children normally chat to strangers online but this trend doubles amongst livestreamers. Setting up parental controls on devices is crucial – now more than ever. Talking about the dangers of inviting strangers into your bedroom, albeit virtually, is so important from a young age.”

Zurich introduced a policy of equal parental leave last year. And they have been praised for the innovations they brought to coping with coronavirus. Many of their policies were specifically aimed at helping parents.

Online habits

Zurich and Ineqe provide tips for parents concerned about their children’s online habits.

  • Make your home safer – ensure you are using the best possible settings provided by your Internet service provider. You can access these by searching for them by name and adding the phrase, safety settings e.g. BT safety settings
  • Make sure all the devices you use have the most appropriate safety settings. Visit https://oursafetycentre.co.uk/ to check.
  • Talk: Talking is the most important tool in a parent or carers child protection tool kit. Ensure your child knows they can always talk to you. Let them know we all make mistakes and that whatever happens, you will always be there for them. In fact, reinforce that if they feel they can’t speak to anyone else, they can always talk to Childline (they can do this online).
  • Before talking to them about any concerns you have about social media, apps or live streaming in general – do your homework. Research the issue yourself so you have at least a basic knowledge.
  • Don’t start by asking ‘have you tried this’ but rather ‘have you heard about this’ and allow them to show off their knowledge. Use this engagement to have a conversation about staying safe and work together to apply safety settings. This is also a good opportunity to agree on boundaries e.g. no devices in bedrooms.
  • Parents and Carers should report any concerns of grooming or abuse to the local police or CEOP




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