Live webchat with Tanya Byron about internet safety, Wed 24 Feb, 1pm

(136 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 22-Feb-10 12:43:32

We're very pleased that Tanya Byron is our guest again. She'll be online from 1pm - 2pm this Wednesday, 24 Feb.

Tanya is a practising consultant in child and adolescent mental health who has two children of her own. She's the author of three books and a well-known broadcaster.

Ahead of the chat, Tanya has sent us this to post on her behalf:

I really enjoyed my last webchat on Mumsnet and found the the questions and insights really interesting.

I have recently been asked by Gordon Brown to review internet safety since my Safer Children in a Digital World report (the Byron review) in 2008.

To ensure my review takes in parents' views, I'm really keen to get Mumsnetters' perspectives on both the opportunities that you think the internet gives your children and also the risks you've encountered.

I'd like to chat about anything to do with internet safety, but to get your thoughts flowing, a few starting points could be:

Is there enough information which is easily accessible about internet safety?

Where do you get your information and advice on internet safety?

How good are schools at educating children about internet safety?

What do you think about internet safety in the context of videogames, games consoles and mobile phones?

Look forward to chatting to you on the 24th!

LeninGrad Mon 22-Feb-10 13:20:07

Any chance of a summary of the key findings from the 2008 review?

ChristinePrattsDog Mon 22-Feb-10 13:20:41

do you know
i find it hard to care that much about it.

ChristinePrattsDog Mon 22-Feb-10 13:21:48

schools are obsessed by it im(prof) e.
kids are convinced that there are weirdy beardys around every corner and are slightly hysterical about it. ( age 11)

thenn age 14 wiht parental consent post youtube videos of them lipsyncing to camera in skimpy tops

i blame the parents not the interweb

LeninGrad Mon 22-Feb-10 13:48:36

The only thing I'd prefer is if kids didn't use their real names and if teenagers didn't post dodgy pics or videos that they may regret in years to come.

Why have we lost the fashion for nicknames?

Lulumama Mon 22-Feb-10 13:57:21

I adore St Tanya of Byron, me and Schneebly went to hear her speak at Edge Hill University last year. She answered my question . Also had great shoes grin

Anyhoo, to the matter in hand...

I think it is as has been pointed out, incumbent on parents to keep a close eye opn things and bec interenet/ tech savvy themselves

i imagine lots of kids can find a way round parental controls etc as they know more than their parents

I also thikn the hardest thing is to impress upon children, particularly young teens, that they don't know it all, that they don't know best and that posting dodgy pics on facebook/bebo/youtube can very well come back and bite you on the bum

i think mobile phones with camera/video facilities and internet have a lot ot answr for !

DS is 10.5 and has a PS3 with an online facility where you can use a head set to chat to people, it has been drilled into him what he can /can't say and i am usually drifting about keeping an eye and ear out. DD is 4 and has no interest at all in computers yet

Children using PCs unsupervised, in their rooms, with the door closed, is a recpe for disaster. parents have to take responsibility, i think parents and children need taking in hand on this

we had a newsletter home from school about internet safety , first we've had, it is a primary school but i think it needs to start early, as by the time they're at seniors, with their mobile/laptop etc.. they need to know who is out there

canariesfansmum Mon 22-Feb-10 14:18:50

I agree I think we (schools and parents) need to start early to educate children (and parents!) about how we can keep safe online.

I have 2DS, 7 and 5 and one DD, 1, and I'm just starting to feel like I need more information about how best to make sure my children have a safe online experience- like I do for a real life experience. I want them to have fun and get to know what "normal" is like so that when something "bad" happens they will be able to react quickly- but how to do this online? I don't have the experience of growing up with it to draw on?

So far just keeping the computer downstairs, refusing to buy a webcam, and they are too young for mobiles with cameras but I'll have that bridge to cross when we get to it! They have DS Lite consoles but I have no idea if these can be used on line- luckily neither do they!

Alambil Mon 22-Feb-10 18:14:00

I also love Dr. Tanya Byron - her Tiny Tearaways programme helped me immensely as a single parent; Rapid Return literally saved my sanity.... although I think 100 returns in 3 hours was rather excessive LOL!

Anyway, to topic:

My son's school had a Safety Week recently and in that they covered everything from the green cross code to internet safety.

The children were shown how to keep safe - using fake names and all the usual about "don't tell anyone your age, location, details" etc and also shown how to use Hector the dolphin (you click Hector and he covers up any scary pages you may find until an adult can come and deal with it).

DS really took it on board, although it seems to have gone awfully deep as he keeps telling me that talking to people on Mumsnet is dangerous because they're strangers!

The parents then had an information evening where we were shown how to use and where to find Hector and all the other usual things you'd expect - stats about how much kids use computers, how many are unsupervised (this was school specific stats though) and how to help children if you think they're getting addicted to sites and games. It was very useful - a council run scheme called something like Know It All - not sure exactly...

The internet is such a good resource for children - from gaming at 3 years old on Cbeebies to homework and even SN support (although not specifically for SN). My son has found it incredibly useful and enjoyable.

I have spoken to DS about his personal safety as he wanted to sign into the Top Gear Turbo Challenge magazine website and needed an ID - he chose something completely random which I was impressed about and understood why.

Now all I need to do is convince him that Mumsnet is safe grin!

Alambil Mon 22-Feb-10 18:15:32

oh I forgot to say - DS is 7 and was 6 when he did the Safety Week

fidelma Mon 22-Feb-10 21:07:07

I love the sound of saftey week.We keep the computers downstairs in public areas of the house.

DD1 10 will get a phone after the summer as it helps the school when activities are change.I would not of bothered yet but school seem to like it at this stage.I am not mad on then having acess to the internet on their phones.

I do know of a 6 year old who googled bunny toys shock

Tanya love all you work, you seem very sane and lovely.Keep up the good work.

MagicMountain Mon 22-Feb-10 21:46:04

My son's school gets them to sign an internet contract which gives them dos and don'ts of going online in class with the expectation that these principles also operate within the home. He is eight but I'm sure that in a few years time he might break some of those rules.

I am astounded at how much pornography and violence there is online and especially by the fact that it is so freely and readily available. I might have to have a conversation about these aspects of the net in a few years, but then again, those might be conversations to have regardless of the technology. Perhaps these things need to be talked about in the context of sex and social education rather than just in terms of the internet.

Rhubarb Tue 23-Feb-10 10:59:19

I still think more could and should be done by the owners of sites to keep children safe.

I showed my dd and ds just how easy it was to get into a childrens chat site. It was a free site called MoshiMonsters, for some of it you had to pay but you could chat for free. I chose my monster, put my age in as 5 and gave them my email address. Then all I had to do was click on the validation email and I could chat away as a 9yo girl.

I think that taught them just how easy it was for anyone to get onto these sites aimed at kids.

It should be made more difficult. The BBC insist that you also include your parents email address, they then send a parent an email informing them that their child has signed up to their sites. Not infallible I know, but it's a step in the right direction.

juneybean Tue 23-Feb-10 11:04:09

I run a forum for an old computer game which has long gone out of date in terms of its features. However the members stick around because we've built up a community, the members aged from 13 years upto 60 years.

Do you think it's of any benefit to children to be a part of such communities much in the same way their parents are a part of this community?

Lymond Tue 23-Feb-10 11:06:48

Agree with others that schools are obsessed with it. We've had to sign internet safety contracts with our children for school, though they are only 5 and 7. School has also run events teaching parents about internet safety.

Our main strategy is not letting them be on the internet alone. At the moment this is quite easy, as all they like doing is cbeebies games, or school homework research.

I can imagine as they get older this could be harder, but we plan to continue this. I think some parents (such as my sister, who lets my 10 your old niece go online unsupervised) are too relaxed.

Alambil Tue 23-Feb-10 16:24:08

tbh I'm going to be terrified as DS gets older - not enough to stop him using the internet, but enough - because I was "groomed" as they call it and my life took one hell of a turn for the worse...

It's so easy to say "I will watch my kids online" but you can't / won't sit over their shoulder at 16/17 and watch what they're chatting about on MSN and in chatrooms (that you've previously OK'ed)... it's down to the teenager by then and it's mighty easy to fall into traps

mrspoppins Tue 23-Feb-10 20:05:53

I have a 17yr old girl and a 12yr old...one doing a levels and one just in Grammar school.
We have a computer downstairs, one TV, one nintendo and a playstation 2 (which comes out at Christmas for sing star!!!)
The 17 yr old got a lap top with internet access for her bedroom for her 17th birthday.She has no TV nor any computer games and we discussed this with her when she was 12 and said it was going to be that way and gave her the reasons that we wanted her to sleep well...work hard during the week for school and still join us downstairs to watch TV.She used to watch TV from 8-9 then up to bed and lights off at 10 until she turned 17 when she pretty much stays in her room now but that is normal and lights are off at 11.

The 12 yr old can have TV from 7-8 or computer from 7-8 and then gets ready for bed and chats with us and lights off at 9.
We have parental control settings on the computer and if anyting is barred, she asks us to unlock it and we always have done so far as there has been no reason not too...the settings are a little too strict.

We have no computer games through choice as we were concerned as to the effect they would have.

We do have a webcam for the girls to chat to friends and they are NOT allowed to chat to anyone who hasn't a web cam as they are then absolutely guaranteed to be talking to who they think they are.

I would like to see all sites where chat is available insisting this. They are reasonably priced and even I, a complete computer dork, can install it.There would be no way you could have an adult posing as a child then.

Phones for children should not be able to access the internet in my opinion as I wouldn't be able to control that. Both my girls got mobiles when they went to secondary school as they take themselves there and back and look after themselves at home until we return.They werebasic ones. The eldest got a super dooper one for Christmas because of her age.

I cringed this week when I heard a Mother talking about her son playing call of duty...he's 9 and she was complaining about how argumentative he was...give me strength!

RTKangaMummy Wed 24-Feb-10 00:37:40

I have a nearly 15 year old son who goes on FACEBOOK but I am very angry and upset by the changes that FACEBOOK have made to the privacy settings

He used to be invisable to everyone even friends of friends but now he is able to be seen ~ I know it is only part of his profile but I would like it to return to how it was last year

Is there any way you know of that could make FACEBOOK in UK go back to how it was last year? Perhaps Gordon could ask them?

All his settings and notifications come through to my email account and I check his page daily

I would also like the settings for privacy to be returned to how they were before for my facebook account.

He has the laptop with a wired connection in the sitting room plus the settings have been set to only let him log on between 6am and 9pm ~ when there is always someone else around. I am the administrator {password protected} on his laptop so I control all the settings etc.

BelfastBloke Wed 24-Feb-10 07:09:18

I found this article, The Three Facebook settings every user should check now, very useful.

Previous to that, I had had no idea how radically Facebook had lowered our privacy settings. But I had noticed that I was able to view the photos of people I am not friends with.

heQet Wed 24-Feb-10 08:14:27

imo, the ONLY way to keep children safe on the internet is for parents to supervise them while they're on it!

Nothing else is 100% safe. It's not.

If your child has the computer in their bedroom, if they access it on their mobile, then you have little if any real control over what they access.

The internet is too big for it to be made 'safe', that's never going to happen and we have to face the reality of that.

It's not the internet's responsibility. It's not the government's responsibility, it's not teachers' responsibility, it's our responsibility, as parents. Sure we can be supported by the government, by internet 'rules' by re-enforcement in schools but make no mistake - the buck stops here. With us. It's our job, just like teaching our children to cross the road is our job. If I'm walking along the road with them, I don't let them wander off and say well, the government should teach them how to cross the road, their teachers should teach them road safety so if they get knocked over, it's the schools fault... No, that would be insane. The safety of our children is our job, first and foremost.

The only way to make it safe for individual children is for parents / guardians to have the computer in the living room and only allow the kids on it when they're there. Password it! Take control. Teach them how to use the internet safely and don't allow them to use it without you until then.

BitOfFun Wed 24-Feb-10 08:36:55

It's all very well if you have started as you mean to go on and been super-strict from the off, but I have trusted my dd(13) with certain levels of privacy and independence- she has a tv in her room, for example. She doesn't have her own computer yet, but given how much schoolwork is web-dependent, how do I make sure she is safe if she is doing research on the internet? I have always had computers in the family room so far, but realistically she will need some peace and quiet to complete GCSE coursework etc. What are your top tips for keeping Teenagers safe online, please, Dr. Byron?

mrspoppins Wed 24-Feb-10 08:38:10

A large problem that I find now is the huge amount of work that schools request is done on the computer. Whether it be research or online tests or the neat presentation of work. It is not possible to be able to supervise a child for 2 hours whilst they do their homework and it would also be an impossible situation to expect that the homework was done on the computer in the living room where they may be others reading or chatting or watching TV.Not only could the children not concentrate, hearing the keys bash bash bashing would also drive other family members crazy. Children need to be trusted but that trust can be earned by good computer behaviour.

It would be better though not to have to do so much work on the computer for school work in the first place. Let children learn to write, neaten their writing and speed their writing ability up in addition to learning how to spell words and not rely on spell check and auto change.

cakeywakey Wed 24-Feb-10 09:15:22

My DD is only 2yo, so I'm not worrying about these things too much in regard to her at the moment, but last year I attended a child safety training at work that focused on the internet and it was very worrying.

The trainer made the point that adults now remember all of the 'don't go off with strangers', 'don't play on the train tracks' and other safety messages that were drummed into us, but because the internet is still so new, we're not as on board with internet safety messages. It's great to hear that parents and children are being given pointers on how to be internet safe - Tanya is this going to be/could it be standard from now on for all children and parents?

I also worry about mobile phones, with easy access to pornography via the internet, being able to send images and films like 'happyslappings' and the ability to cyberbully - how can we keep our children protected from this kind of thing?

Could/can phone companies still sell basic phone models that don't have cameras/internet access, or be able to adjust settings if parents want to limit what children can use their phones for?

I know eight year olds who were give mobile phones for Christmas 'to keep them safe' - I think it could actually be putting them more at risk if they and their parents aren't savvy.

WreckOfTheHesperus Wed 24-Feb-10 10:05:00

I don't have the first clue about internet safety; and, as the parent of a 2 year old, realise that I'm going to have to find out fairly sharpish.

Admittedly it wold be an administrative nightmare, but I would love there to be some sort of rating system for websites in the same way as there is for films, with password access which could be set by the parent. Also with functionality which meant that the sites with adult content did not even pop up on search engines.

Not being particularly youthful anymore, I started out with a natural reluctance to put anythng on tinternet that might identify me to a wider audience. I have somewhat overcome this to be able to post on helpful sites like mumsnet, but still have a strong sense of privacy and discretion which I think probably stands me in fairly good stead, and which I will try to instill into DD.

mrspoppins Wed 24-Feb-10 10:14:02

You could also have a list of websites that you are happy with.this for example or this
this is a book with a list

and this too

RatherBeOnThePiste Wed 24-Feb-10 10:14:13

Last night DD aged 12 and her friend were making a film on imovie about renewable energy. Some homework project. Within a very short time they had got masses of research, current info, a broad variety of fab images, accessed music via itunes etc etc. The end product is brilliant
<preen on their behalf>

The internet is such an amazing tool - let us never lose sight of that. We surely must agree on that point?

But I do believe that too much access is given when children are too young, but more so by naive parents who really don't know about the products (and their capability) they are giving their children. In an earlier post a parent says they do not know if their child's DS can go online. Surely that is a good example - giving a child a piece of equipment and not knowing its potential? We need to ensure that we know, and that we talk to our children openly.

As parents we spend so much time worrying about so many issues. Maybe because parents aren't so computer savvy, and don't understand the technology involved, they let it go. Plus there is a lot of pressure from their children to have the latest thing. It is a bad combination and the consequences can be dire. We are fortunate that in our family our DC will honestly never know more than we ( actually DH grin) know.

We the parents need to make sure we understand what we are giving to our children and take responsibility for teaching them to be safe online with this supported and backed up by the education system.

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