It was once the top-secret site of wartime intelligence gathering and now Bletchley Park is a museum visited by thousands of children a year. As well as learning about breaking codes, they also discover the risks associated with the internet, so who better to offer parents advice on keeping their kids safe online than its Learning experts?
This week the museum hosted visits from hundreds of school pupils for Safer Internet Day and Simon Thompson, McAfee Online Safety Learning Officer at Bletchley Park, said that parents need to be ready for a big change in the use of social media when children move from primary to secondary school.
“This is when they are likely to use a completely new set of social media apps they are unfamiliar with – and could easily become overwhelmed,” he said. “Children and young people have good awareness of the risks associated with the internet, however there is still a gap between awareness and practice that needs to be addressed. The role of the parent or carer is critical in filling this gap, but many have little direct experience of the issues affecting their children.”
Thompson created a list of five tips that should help parents keep their children safe online:
1. Set ground rules on family internet use that apply to everybody. Basing these on mental health advice from the NHS is a great idea, so why not use the Digital 5 a Day plan as a start?
2. Take responsibility for devices and services your child has access to. You can find a useful guide to setting up all sorts of devices here.
3. Check privacy settings are appropriate. While young people are well aware of how to use devices and apps, they may not pay enough attention to privacy settings. The NSPCC’s Net Aware site will help you understand the features and risks.
4. Be available to help block and report content when your child is upset by something they have seen on the Internet. Most children recover quite quickly, but for a significant number this can take a long time. The NSPCC’s Net Aware site can help here too.
5. Set a good example and avoid ‘Sharenting’. Being tagged on a parent’s social media and having friends see embarrassing content is a common source of complaint from children. Find out more here.
During the forthcoming Half Term – Tuesday 13 to Thursday 15 February – families can take part in drop-in cyber security workshops that are included with admission to Bletchley Park. Aimed at children aged five to 14, the Think, Make, Do… Cyber sessions explore how modern-day issues of online safety relate to the Codebreakers. Visitors can also take a look around the exhibition Secrecy and Security – Keeping Safe Online, sponsored by McAfee, situated in Block C and free with admission.