TV star Keeley Hawes on the importance of internet safety

Voice of Lara Croft and mum-of-three Keeley talks about the WorldWideWeb and her children

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Taking on the role of voicing Lara Croft when you have three children (two of them boys) who will invariably grow up to play the games certainly throws up some interesting situations – especially when your own son tells you he ‘likes the way Lara runs’ – but Keeley Hawes (star of Spooks, Upstairs, Downstairs and Ashes to Ashes) is not quite ready for children to have the parental controls lifted, revealing her thoughts on internet safety…

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MFM: You’ve got three children, Myles, 12, Maggie, 8, and Ralph, 6, how do you feel about them being able to surf the web?

KH: On the one hand it’s brilliant. It offers kids everything they possibly need when it comes to school work – it’s an amazing piece of equipment. It’s a big thing, like TV used to be in our house when I was growing up. But at the end of the day it’s a grown-up space and there needs to be a line.

MFM: Do you worry about what your kids might see online?

KH: My eldest, Myles, came to me to tell me he’d clicked on a pop-up that was inappropriate. I felt much worse about it than he did – maybe I’m naïve but they’re still children.

MFM: What do you think we should be telling children?

KH: As much as we can we need to educate them. They need to know that pop-ups and things that say ‘get some free games here’ aren’t always as they appear. It’s important to make the most of parental controls. I’m not a huge user of pcs and things but I’ve got the hang of them. Don’t let your lack of confidence stop you trying them out. It can feel a bit like it’s their world, but have a go or find a friend that’s a bit more savvy with those sort of controls. There’s loads of great links on childnet.com/downloading – it’s never as complicated as it looks, it’s just a matter of doing it.

MFM: You were the voice of some of the Lara Croft games – what was that like?

KH: I did three games, it was quite odd. My son Myles did play it, although he couldn’t quite get past the first level where she just runs around a lot. He said to me, ‘I like the way she runs’. I was a bit confused by that! But I loved doing the games, Lara’s a very inspirational woman.

MFM: With all the technology around there’s a new breed of tantrums, the ‘iPaddy’. Have you experience many of these at home?

KH: Oh, I’ve not heard that before, ‘iPaddy’ I like that! We don’t really have them in our house. I find that my kids take a bit of the info, take as much as they want, and then move onto the next thing. They’re pretty good at self-regulating.

MFM: Are your kids into any games or sites in particular?

KH: They really love Bin Weevils and they play all the crosswords and things. As long as what they’re doing isn’t always mind-numbing I’m happy. I think, wow, if they were sat doing some of those puzzles on paper, I’d be thrilled, so it’s about balance. They’re brilliant on car journeys and you can’t help but feel a bit relieved if an iPad comes out to calm a screaming child.

MFM: Did you use the internet a lot while you were pregnant?

KH: I googled a lot. The internet is incredibly useful for health information. If the kids were feeling sick I could check their symptoms online.

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Keeley is supporting the launch of a new guide from internet safety charity, Childnet International, to inform parents about enjoying music, film and TV on the internet safely and legally. The free online guide is available at www.childnet.com/downloading.

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