Online safety

How can you protect yourself and your family from online hate, extremism and fake news?

During the pandemic we are spending more time online than ever before – learning, chatting, socialising – it’s all online.

But sadly the pandemic has also brought social isolation, anxiety and fear into our lives.

And while a lot of the available advice and guidance is about protecting our children, we all need to be careful about how we live our lives online. The information on the sites further down this page apply to us all.

The risks

Extremists are seizing opportunities to use the internet and social media to spread their hate, ideology, fake news and conspiracy theories. They are targeting, exploiting, grooming and recruiting children, young and vulnerable people, lots of whom are spending a lot of time online by themselves.

Tactics

A common approach is spreading misinformation to generate anger and outrage.

We need to teach ourselves and our children not to fall for this trick.

Extremists often pick and real local issue and make up misinformation, quotes and social media posts about it. They want to draw people into conversations and encourage them to share the hate.

Do you know who to trust online?

The more a stranger knows about you, the easier it is for them to gain your trust.

Only share information with people you trust.

Encourage the children and young people in your family to talk to you about what they do online, especially when things go wrong.


Support, ideas and resources

Learn how to identify misinformation, talk to children, young and vulnerable people about hate speech and spot the signs they could be being groomed by extremists or other online predators.

Educate Against Hate

Messages of hate can take many forms. Extremist groups use them to recruit young people. Find answers to common questions and resources to help protect their child from being groomed by extremists as well as ideas about how to talk to children about hate and extremism and where to seek help.

Full Fact

Know how to fact-check and have a link to a reliable fact-checking site on your devices.

How to know what to trust

This guide from the News Literacy Project is great place to start.

Conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories have grown significantly in the past year they have been fuelled by the confusing and unsettling nature of the pandemic and have resulted in people being drawn into extremists groups, committing violent and criminal acts. They can also be deeply disturbing and unsettling for children and young people who come across them accidentally online.

Common Sense Media

This website has the latest research, tips, and tools on what really keeps children safe online.

Which privacy settings should you use? What are the ins and outs of parental controls?

Get tips on everything from the basics, such as smart usernames, to the big stuff, such as appropriate sharing.

Plus lots of resources and strategies to look after your child’s wellbeing online. What are the pros and cons of Roblox, TikTok, Instagram or how to talk to teens about online predators.

How parenting styles can affect a child’s digital resilience

Get an understanding of how you parent to improve the way your child adapts and forms their view of the online world.

Can you separate the fact from the fiction?

The interactive BBC iReporter game – aimed at youngsters aged 11 to 18 – gives them the chance to take on the role of a journalist in the BBC newsroom.

And play the Fake News Quiz as a family (parents versus children) to learn and test your knowledge on what fake news, disinformation and misinformation is and how to stop it from spreading.


We are indebted to the Prevent Education Officers of Kent & Medway (part of the Prevent Education Officer Network) for the links and resources featured on this page.