- It is often said that trust is earned rather than given. However, on the internet this is not always true. Communicating with someone online for a long time and feeling that you know more about them does not make them more trustworthy; someone you only know online may be untruthful about who they are.
- Someone seeking to coerce, exploit or harm a child online will typically attempt to do so by first building a positive relationship with that child, in order to gain their trust. Once trust has been established, that adult can more easily manipulate a child into risky or harmful behaviour.
- Online platforms like social media give users control over what they post and share online. Therefore anything posted, even by close friends, should not be automatically considered trustworthy. Children may see others online who are very selective about what they share which may create an impression that those people are always happy or have a ‘perfect’ life.
- Once you have shared a photo or video with someone else online, it becomes very easy for them to share it with others. Many devices allow you to take screenshots, which makes it easy for someone to capture messages or conversations and share them with others.
- Remind your child that not everyone is who they say they are online. Other online users may not be truthful about their identity and children should not consider an online contact to be trustworthy just because they have shared a lot of information about themselves.
- Explain to your child that it is unsafe to agree to video chat with someone they only know online. You don’t know what you might see in the video chat or how the other person (or people) in the video chat might behave.
- Discuss with your child the trust they have in their friends – are there things they would/wouldn’t trust them with online? Explain that, even though close friends are more trusted, it is important to think about what you share with them, as they might share photos/videos or information about you with others.
- Remind your child that if any contact from someone else online makes them feel worried or uncomfortable, they should always tell you or another trusted adult as soon as possible. You should work with your child to report the user, block further contact from them and seek further help if required.