NSPCC Northern Ireland has called on parents and carers across the North West to ensure that they, and their children, are web-wise.
With social media constantly-evolving, children are communicating online not just through their PC, but on mobile phones and game consoles.
Understanding the internet and the risks it can pose is the first step to keeping your child safe, says the NSPCC.
Neil Anderson, National Head of Service for NSPCC Northern Ireland, told the ‘Sunday Journal’: “The internet can be a wonderful resource, but it is not without its pitfalls.”
“As young people across the region log on to play games, chat to peers and socialise, I would urge parents to use this opportunity to talk about the possible dangers online. Not only can you never really be sure who you are talking to, but without meaning to do so you can make yourself vulnerable by giving away personal information.
“Parents can play their part by talking openly to their children about their activities on the internet, ensuring they follow advice on internet safety and encouraging them to speak out if they see anything that makes them feel upset or uncomfortable.”
While interactive social media technology continues to grow, the potential for misuse is high. Risks can include cyberbullying, grooming and potential abuse by online predators, identity theft and exposure to inappropriate content.
The NSPCC is offering parents some advice on how to make cyberspace safer for their children:
* Help your children to understand that they should never give out personal details such as their email address, mobile number, school name or arrangements for meeting up with friends.
* Make them aware that they need to think carefully about the information and pictures they post on their profiles. Once published online, anyone can change or share these images.
* If your child receives spam or junk email and texts, remind them never to believe their contents, reply to them or use them.