Police in West Dunbartonshire have shared online safety tips to help parents protect their children during the festive season.

A total of 42 people attended an online event last week to raise awareness of the opportunities and risks that come with increasing online use by young people.

The virtual session was opened by area commander for West Dunbartonshire, Chief Inspector Coleen Wylie, who said: "I’m delighted that so many people took an interest in this event. Since the start of lockdown in 2020, we have sadly seen an increase in reports of younger people receiving indecent images and communications through mobile devices.

"We want to help parents and carers have increased knowledge of some of the simple steps that can be taken, including use of parental controls and having conversations with their children, to help protect young people and enable them to enjoy all the benefits of the digital world safely."

PC Jules Wreford, local youth engagement officer, delivered a presentation that highlighted the opportunities now available through the internet and passed on some useful facts. 

According to PC Wreford, 83 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds and 50 per cent of 10-year-olds own their own smartphone, with almost a quarter of three to four-year-olds having their own tablet.

The key messages passed throughout the event were:

  • Be Informed – keep up to date with online trends and challenges that children and young people face online.
  • Have open conversations – Talk regularly to your children about what they enjoy doing online.
  • Discuss risks – Encourage your child to discuss concerns they have about their online activity with you.
  • Explore together – find opportunities to learn and engage in online apps and activities together.
  • Monitor activity – avoid leaving young children to play online alone without supervision.

If you believe your child has been the victim of online sexual exploitation, contact Police Scotland on 999 in an emergency or 101 for all non-emergencies. Alternatively, you can make an online report at scotland.police.uk/contact-us/.