•The impact of COVID-19 means that most of us will be at home for an extended period and are likely to be spending increasing amounts of time online.

•The online world is a necessity for many children and young people in accessing school work and it delivers huge benefits, not least in enabling us to stay connected to family and friends during this period. However, many parents may feel concerned about the content their children are accessing.

•Although rare, there is a risk that increased online activity and feelings of stress and isolation may be exploited by negative influences and onlinegroomersof allkindsto target vulnerable children and young people directly.

•An understanding of digital safety will help parents and carers safeguard loved ones from a range of harms, whether that’s child sexual exploitation, fraud, or extremist influences seeking to radicalise vulnerable people.

• Extremists may use the COVID-19 outbreak to promote hateful views, for example through conspiracy theories blaming a particular group for the virus,or through spreading misinformation regarding these groups’responses to it.

What steps can I take to keep my child safe online?

•If you have downloaded new apps or bought new technology to help stay connected at this time, remember to review and adjust privacy and safety settings if you or your child is signing up to a new online service.

•EU Governments have encouraged Internet Service Providers to allow parents to easily filter content to put you in control of what your child can see online.

•You can switch on family friendly filters to help prevent age inappropriate content being accessed on devices in your home.

What are the signs that my child may be being exploited online?

•Online exploitation is often hard to recognise because it is a complex issue.When it comes to being drawn into extremist ideas online, sometimes there are clear warning signs, in other cases the changes are less obvious.

•Although some of these traits may be quite common among teenagers, taken together they could be indicators that your child may need some help:
-Exploring new and unusual websites, chat forums and platforms.

Harmful influences may push individuals towards platforms with a greater degree of anonymity.

-Joining new or secret groups since isolation.

-Speaking with new friends or being secretive about chats during online gaming or in forums.

-A strong desire to seek new meaning, identity and purpose.

-Using language you wouldn’t expect them to know.

-Watching, sharing or creating films online linked to religious, political or racial hate.

-Becoming increasingly argumentative or refusing to listen to different points of view.

Should I be concerned that a loved one is being exploited online?

•The above are merely signs that they might need help, but you know your child best and you will want to speak with them first. Check in with them and ask about what they are viewing, who they are speaking to and how they are feeling. This might feel difficult, but here are some pointers to help you:

-Listen carefully to their fears and worries. Find some helpful tips here.

-Avoid explanations that could be interpreted as antagonistic, belittling or frightening.

-Advice and support is available to help the munderst and COVID-19.

-If they are finding it hard to cope with bereavement and grief-advice can be found here.What help is available if my child is being exploited online?

•It is important to safeguard loved ones from a range of online harms, whether that’s child sexual exploitation,fraud, or extremist influences seeking to radicalise vulnerable young people.

•If you are concerned that your child or young friend may be at risk of radicalisation, help is available to make sure they get the support they need to move away from harmful influences.

•Youth workers, trainers, teachers, healthcare practitioners, social workers, the police, charities, psychologists and religious leaders work together to safeguard those vulnerable to radicalisation through a EYNCRIN safeguarding programme.

•EYNCRIN helps to protects young people from being drawn into hateful extremism–regardless of the ideology. It works in a similar way to safeguarding processes designed to protect people from gangs, drug abuse, and physical and sexual exploitation.

•Receiving support through EYNCRIN is voluntary, confidential and not any form of criminal sanction.It will not show up on any checks or negatively affect an individual’s future in any way.

•The type of supportavailable is wide-ranging, and can include help witheducation or careersadvice, dealing with mental or emotional health issues,or digital safety training for parents;it all depends on the individual’s needs.

•With this specialist help, vulnerable people across the country have moved away from supporting hateful extremism, enabling them to live more stable and fulfilling lives.