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This article was contributed by Parent Zone

Parent Zone provides information, help, advice, support and resources to parents, teachers, health professionals, police officers, internet safety officers and HR professionals - anyone who engages with parents.

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Your child’s digital footprint

12 year-old boy sitting and looking inscrutable

photo: Michael Donald

It's easy to pretend to be a better version of yourself on the internet - with just a little Photoshop and a funny one-liner, we can all be better-looking and funnier.

And if you're a young person, that's probably particularly attractive. But hidden behind the safety of a keyboard or keypad, it's easy for children to miss the warning signs that people may be invading their personal space or using their personal information against them. 

  • Explain to your child that what goes online stays online.
  • Ask them what they'd do if someone was standing too close to them, or if strangers were asking nosy questions. Then ask them what they think is the online equivalent.  
  • Get them to type their name into a search engine - they may be surprised by what comes up.
  • Encourage them to ask permission before tagging photos or videos of friends and family.
  • Explain that they could be breaking the law if they make comments about someone online (it could be slanderous).
  • Remind them of the value of friendship: to be a friend, other people need to be decent, kind and supportive.
  • Talk about the consequences of posting rude images online.

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