Internet safety – your questions answered

How safe is Moshi Monsters or Club Penguin? Should your child use a nickname online? We put your concerns to the experts

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In conjunction with Safer Internet Day, an international event to promote, you guessed it, internet safety, MadeForMums hosted a live Twitter chat. Your questions were answered by experts at Childnet

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We’ve picked the most frequently asked queries…

“Is it safer for my child to use a nickname online or his first name? I don’t want him to reveal his identity or pick something inappropriate!”

Whether it’s Club Penguin or Moshi Monsters, children are asked to create and name an onscreen character. But keeping personal information safe can be tricky for young ones to comprehend, and they might want to type in their full name.

Some sites need a full name to sign up but usernames/nicknames are great where possible to protect a child’s identity.

Why not also use Smartie the Penguin to teach online awareness? Smartie is the main character in Childnet’s brand new safety resource in the form of a quirky online book.

“My daughter loves Moshi Monsters. Should I be watching her playing on it the whole time?”

The best thing to do is to familiarise yourself with the site. Use it together at first, see how she interacts and what she’s doing on it. The the level of supervision will depend on her age.

You need to feel confident about what your child is doing and what she could get up to. Get to know the site, check out what security settings are available and then ask your child to discuss certain things with you, such as who they accept as a friend.

While Moshi Monsters is aimed at children aged 7 to 11, if you have younger children the question here might be about Club Penguin – read our guide to Club Penguin to find out what this website’s all about.

“How can I make sure my child downloads apps from my iPad that are appropriate for her age?”

Agree some groundrules first. Make sure your children have to approve each download with you first. This gives you a chance to understand what the download is about and will avoid any unwanted download risks.

Make sure your children know what the consequences will be if they break the rules. This means you’re not only being reassured they’re only downloading age-appropriate apps, but you’re also protecting yourself from a huge bill!

Even though you need a password setting to use iTunes, even for free apps, the iTunes password is set for 15 minutes after you’ve used it. This means that if you type in your password, the account is still open and active for 15 minutes, without need for the password to be retyped in.

You can change this. Go to ‘settings – general – restrictions – require passcode’ on your Apple device, and then change this setting from “15 minutes” to “immediately”.

Read more…

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