Internet Safety as a Foster Carer in the UK

Internet Safety as a Foster Carer in the UK

When foster caring in the UK, your key role and responsibility is to ensure the safety and well-being of the children and young people in your care. In today’s digital age, where the internet plays an integral role in our daily lives, navigating online safety hasbecome a key part of keeping children safe.

The job of foster caring in the UK is constantly changing, and it’s natural to feel a little scared and/or daunted at the prospect of internet safety, especially if you do not consider yourself to be ‘tech savvy’. At Family Fostering Partners, we understand the importance of equipping our foster carers with the tools and knowledge to ensure the safety and well-being of the young people in our collective care, that’s why we aim to provide ongoing support and training to those foster caring with us, so that they feel equipped and able to keep children safe.

The Digital Landscape: Opportunities and Risks

The internet offers a vast array of opportunities for learning, socialising, and entertainment. From booking doctors’ appointments online, attending meetings through zoom or Microsoft teams, or updating carer logs, the benefits of using the internet when foster caring in the UK are obvious. Our young people can also benefit from using the internet; from accessing educational resources to connecting with friends and family, the online world enriches our lives in countless ways. However, alongside these benefits come inherent risks, especially for vulnerable children and young people in foster care.

Understanding the Risks

When foster caring in the UK, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks associated with internet use:

Exposure to inappropriate content: Children may inadvertently come across content that is not suitable for their age or developmental level.

Predatory individuals: Unfortunately, there are numerous examples of people using the anonymity of online spaces to groom or exploit children.

Cyberbullying: Children in foster care may be more susceptible to cyberbullying due to their past trauma or vulnerabilities

Privacy concerns: We are all at risk of identity theft or breaches of our privacy online, however, for children in foster care in the UK the sharing of personal information online can be particularly dangerous.

Addictive behaviours: Research suggests that children can develop addictive relationships with certain online activities with manifests itself through excessive screen and can lead to a negative impact upon a child’s mental and physical well-being.

Strategies for Promoting Internet Safety

At Family Fostering Partners, we provide comprehensive training and support to help foster carers navigate the complexities of internet safety. We encourage those foster caring in the UK to speak openly to the children in their care about their internet usage. Here are some strategies we recommend:

Open Communication: Encourage a culture of open communication with the children in your care. Encourage them to share their online experiences, concerns, and questions without fear of judgment. Some of our foster parents make verbal contacts with the older children in their care, and have conversations around which apps/games/websites are appropriate or inappropriate, or how much screen time should be given per day/week. Use the internet together and learn from one another.

Education and Awareness: Educate children about the potential risks of the internet and teach them how to recognise and respond to online dangers, such as cyberbullying.

Setting Boundaries: Establish clear rules and boundaries regarding internet usage, including time limits, appropriate websites and apps, and guidelines for sharing personal information online.

Monitoring and Supervision: Monitor children’s online activities regularly and supervise their internet usage.

Tech Tools and Parental Controls: Utilise parental control tools and software to restrict access to inappropriate content and monitor online interactions. Familiarise yourself with privacy settings on social media platforms and other online services. You can also set up controls to limit screen time. Often your dedicated Family Fostering Partners link worker will be able to assist you directly in setting up such controls, additionally, these skills will be covered in our training days. It’s worth noting that many internet providers are also more than happy to help you set restrictions.

Various Devices: Be aware that the internet can be accessed through various devices, not just a laptop or computer. There are a myriad of different devices which are part of the wider “internet of things” such as games consoles, tablets, smart phones, tv’s, and even watches. When setting limits and parental controls, consider all ways that the internet can be accessed.

Foster Caring in the UK with Family Fostering Partners

When foster caring in the UK with Family Fostering Partners, you are part of a supportive community of professionals who are dedicated to providing only the highest standards of care for children and young people. Our team of experts provide ongoing training, guidance, and resources to help you navigate the challenges of foster caring in the UK, this includes promoting internet safety.  You may also find useful resources about internet safety through an organisation called FosterTalk, every foster parent of ours receives free membership and are therefore able to advantage of their training and resources.

The online world is ever changing, and it can feel overwhelming to keep on top of the latest updates and developments. By joining our support groups, training sessions and online private platforms, advice and tips can be shared, so that you as a foster parent can feel in control of the internet usage in your household.

Conclusion on Foster Caring in the UK and Online Safety

Everyone that is foster caring in the UK need to ensure the safety and well-being of the children in their care, this can be challenging in an ever-changing world with new threats and hazards. By staying informed, proactive, and vigilant about internet safety, we can create a safer online environment for children to learn, explore, and connect. With the support of Family Fostering Partners, you can make a positive difference in the lives of vulnerable children and young people across the UK.

If you’re considering becoming a foster parent and want to learn more about our fostering agency and the support we provide, contact Family Fostering Partners today.

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