Keeping kids safe online is every parent’s responsibility

Internet trolls can be very cruel

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The internet is a wonderful, powerful and astonishing thing. Never before have we had so much information available at our fingertips, and never has it been so easy to keep in touch with friends, families and strangers near and far.

But like any environment which brings contact with the outside world, the world wide web can also be a dangerous place.

As police say in our story today, it is a place where young people may find themselves vulnerable to those who may want to bully them or do them harm.

Just as we were brought up with the message about the possibility of ‘stranger danger’ lurking in the local park, so do the children of today need to be warned about the risks of interacting with others through the computer screen.

With that mind we welcome the police intitiative we report on today, which will take the ‘stay safe’ message out to young people and warn them of the dangers and potential consequences of not being careful in their interactions on the internet.

Like it or not, communicating through electronic means is natural to us these days.

It is simply not practical to keep our children away from the numerous computers, smartphones and other electronic devices which give them access to the internet.

Giving them the knowledge to use these wisely is a vital way of protecting them.

But we should not just lay the responsibility at their door.

All too often parents are ignorant of what their children are able to get up to online.

A little knowledge of how sites like Facebook, Twitter and Bebo work and of how parental controls can be used to limit access to undesirable material can go a long way.

And while the questions of whether a child should be allowed a computer in their own room, and whether a parent should ‘snoop’ on their youngster’s online activity are a matter for individual families, certainly there should be open discussion about these options.

So we hope that parents as well as young people take advantage of the sessions on offer.

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