Summer holidays are here - follow the NSPCC's advice on keeping you children safe online

The summer holidays are here and for many of our children and young people the holidays mean spending more time online, to stay connected and entertained.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 11:58 am
Updated Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 12:01 pm
The NSPCC can help with advice on how to keep your children safe online during the school holidays. Picture: Getty Images.

So this week’s column feels like an opportune time to talk about speaking with your children about ensuring their online accounts are secure.

As adults we know to use strong, robust passwords to help to keep our online accounts secure, and it should be just the same for our children on their favourite apps, sites and games.

Your child might have had an account or game hacked, or know of friends who have, and this can often be due to using weak passwords or sharing their passwords with friends.

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So when talking with your child about staying safe online, please ensure they know how important it is to use strong, secure passwords and to keep those passwords private.

We also know from contacts to Childline that some young people might be tempted to share a password as an act of friendship, or a way to show they trust someone.

So it is important they are aware why this isn’t a good idea and that shared passwords can be misused and so it is always best to keep them private.

The NSPCC has some useful tips about creating strong passwords on Net Aware – our joint website with O2, which offers advice on how children can stay safe online.

Plus, helping your child to know how to create a strong password will empower them with good habits as their online activities grow.

When talking about passwords, make sure your child knows about ‘phishing’; this is when someone tries to trick them into giving personal information, such as a password. It is important that children know they should never click links from emails or messages that ask them to log in or share their details, even if they think they might be genuine. If they are asked to log into a website, they should go to the app or site directly instead.

As well as using passwords, many online services have the option to set up two-factor authentication, and some online services insist on it. This adds another layer of security to your password by asking for another piece of information, such as entering a code sent via text message.

A lot of apps and sites allow use of two-factor authentication, and it is best to use this option whenever possible.

Remember, too, to keep your own passwords safe, especially ones which you use to manage parental controls. Make sure they aren’t known by your children or easy to guess, for example their name or date of birth. And remember, you can find more information about setting strong passwords – and your child’s wider online world and the most popular apps, sites and games they’re using – at www.net-aware.org.uk .