Safer Internet Day 2023: how to get online safely

Today marks this year’s edition of Safer Internet Day, an annual event which highlights the most up-to-date areas of concern when browsing the internet and provides resources to help adults and children alike to get online safely. Having started in 2004, various themes have been the focus of the campaign over the years. This year’s theme is “Want to talk about it? Making space for conversations about life online”, encouraging parents and carers to have open and honest conversations with their children about their online activity.

What does this year’s theme mean?

The number of children having access to technology and going online is only increasing – back in 2020, Ofcom reported that 97% of 5-15 year olds were active online. With so many ways for children to access the internet, it can be difficult to know where to begin when thinking about how you can let them enjoy the time they spend online, whilst also protecting them from some of its more problematic aspects. This year’s theme places emphasis on sharing experiences and setting expectations through open and honest communication. In doing so, both parents/carers and children can gain a greater understanding of how time is being spent online and reassured by measures put in place to ensure this can be done safely.

What can I do to keep myself and others safe online?

There are plenty of resources online for both this year’s Safer Internet Day and previous editions. Here’s some recommended resources on topics such as ‘how to have conversations about life online’ and ‘steps to setting up parental controls’, or content about various online safety topics:

Having conversations about safe internet use

The UK Safer Internet Centre choose each year’s theme and have provided a list of top tips for parents and carers to talk to children about online safety. Similarly, have given a list of practical tips to support your child, laid out in five simple steps. The BBC also has a great selection of teaching resources for Safer Internet Day, with a number of resources covering topics with helpful information for both primary and secondary school aged children.

Setting up parental controls

Applying parental controls on different devices or services can take time, with each device having different options and features. SWGfL have produced a number of social media checklists that cover the basics on many of the most popular social media sites that can help you and your children to understand their key functions. In terms of devices, back on Safer Internet Day 2021, our friends at Three Discovery held a walkthrough livestream showing how to set up parental control settings on Apple and Android devices. You can jump to the sections most relevant to you using the handy timestamps found in the description.

If you have any young gamers in the family, each of the major gaming platforms has parental control settings that can help you manage what games your children play or who can contact them: • PlayStation 4 or 5Xbox One or Series X/SNintendo Switch • If your child plays games on a computer, Steam and Epic Games also have family settings

As an adult, what should I look out for online?

Unfortunately, online scams are constantly taking on new forms and in many cases are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Two years ago, we posted about how to stay safe online and many of the scams identified in that article are still often seen today. Luckily, many email providers and social media platforms have measures in place that are quite effective at identifying and blocking suspicious communications, while smartphones are also becoming more adept at identifying and warning against these. However, some scams do still manage to get through and so it’s important to keep an eye out for these.

Generally, if you receive a suspicious message and have any doubt, it’s best to not give away any information, follow any links or reply to the message. If the sender is claiming to be from someone you know, try speaking to them or someone close to them directly to confirm it’s them before acting on any requests – you might have heard of a more recent scam technique where fraudsters impersonate a relative, claiming their phone has broken and that they’re texting from a borrowed phone, before trying to pressure the recipient into sending them money for a new one. By calling the original number you have saved for this person, or someone who can talk to them directly (e.g. someone they live with or a colleague they spend time at work with), you can confirm whether or not they sent you the message and avoid giving any money or personal information away to a fraudster.

Similarly, if you receive a suspicious message that claims to be from a company (e.g. a bank or delivery service), you should be able to find confirmed contact details from their official website. If you have any doubts, it would be best to get in touch with them using these details and ask them to confirm whether or not the message has indeed come from them. If they confirm the message is fraudulent, you can comfortably report and/or delete the message.

There is plenty more to learn about online safety, but we hope this gives you a good idea of some of the easier ways you and your familiy can safely enjoy the best that the internet has to offer – happy surfing!

  • SMARTY Team
  • February 7th, 2023